Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Math


Contemporary Math Projects

We started presenting projects today in Contemporary Math.  I was a little concerned because I’d been intentionally vague with the assignment, hoping for creative projects, but possibly opening myself up to some serious slacking.  But I was really impressed by the work my students did!  Their projects ranged from posters and scrapbooks to PowerPoint presentations and music videos.  There were even a lot of goodies from those who decided to do baking projects (and as their math instructor, I felt it was my duty to sample these).

If I had to give out creativity awards for the projects presented today, I think I’d have to go with:

Section 001 went to the sports folks.  I had great videos by Bryan McGraw on how Heisman Trophy selection relates to voting theory and Maddalina Poliendrio on tennis and physics.  Both contained great clips and explanations.

Section 002 was a three-way tie between David Banks’ graph theory approach to bank robbery, Ben Ashby’s video about the cost of eating out vs. cooking, and Catherine Brereton’s music video on the cost of feeding picky kids (with a surprise appearance by her criminal cat).

And I enjoyed all of the goodies, but I think the “Fabulous Diet Killer” award has to go to Amanda Powell, who used math (and a bit of experimentation) to convert her grandmother’s cake recipe from pinches and jiggers to cups and teaspoons.  I could have eaten the whole thing and died a happy woman!

I think I can already say that my students have made this project a success – and we still have one more day to go!

Brain Dump Complete.


Things You Never Think You’ll Do…

So yesterday I gave a lecture to my math class about plagiarism.  Frankly, this was a topic I’d never even pondered having to talk about – being a math teacher and all, I don’t assign papers very often (actually this was the first one I’ve ever assigned).  We talked about  what is and isn’t plagiarism as well as the penalties in place for those who are caught.  Since the assignment was only worth 10 points, I just gave a grade of zero to those who (intentionally or not) plagiarized their work, and won’t be taking it any farther than that.  However, I truly hope that the discussion we had in class will stick with my students throughout their college careers.

Incidentally, if any students read this, remember that your instructors use Google too.

Here is a video I found on, that does a pretty good job of simplifying how students can include others’ ideas without plagiarizing (and it’s kind of funny):

I suppose, as teachers, we need to remember that much of the teaching we do is not necessarily restricted to our subject area.  And while it seems strange to approach a topic like plagiarism in a mathematics class, it’s better to get the discussion out of the way early on in students’ stay at the university.  After all, I think it is possible, likely even, that some of my students didn’t realize what they were doing was wrong.  After all they were not required to have a works cited page, which doesn’t mean you can take someone else’s work without credit, but could have been confusing.  So hopefully this experience will keep them out of trouble in future classes.

Brain Dump complete.


Animoto Voting Theory Video

Here is my latest project.  Of course, I should be grading things, but this was WAY more fun!  For those of you who haven’t checked out Animoto, you should totally do it.  It’s really easy to upload your images (and Office 2007 will let you export Power Point slides as JPEG files now), choose a song and tell Animoto to make you a sweet video.  As far as I can tell, I don’t seem to be able to move the videos to my screencast account or anywhere else, but they have extensive sharing options.

Anyhow, I made this video for my Intro to Contemporary Math students to review their voting methods.

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Feel free to use the video for educational purposes only.  If you like the music, make sure to check out Darkest Days.

Brain Dump complete.


First Week of School

Emergency Brain Dump:

So I’m back to school again, taking and teaching classes.  I’m a little sad that this will probably be my last year of college for awhile (but not THAT sad… lol).  If anybody who checks this out isn’t aware, I’m hoping to finish my Master’s talk in September, which means I could graduate in December.  Depending on the job market though, I may stick around for the Spring semester also.

This semester, I’m teaching MA 111, Contemporary Mathematics.  Today we learned about preference ballots and preference schedules by filling out ballots ranking ice cream flavors, sports, reading materials, etc. and then grouping up to tabulate the results in a preference table.  I haven’t had that much fun in a class in quite awhile!  Especially since I managed to forget the scissors and got to watch my students try to tear their ballots apart.  =)  So I think this class will be a really fun one to teach, but I’m also a little unnerved.  I have spent the last several semesters teaching a heavily coordinated course, and now there are almost no preset expectations (other than having an exam here and there).  Who knew freedom could be so daunting?  If anyone has any good voting theory resources, I’d love to see them.

As for my classes, I listened to some sage advice from my Math & Tech cult leader, and I’m taking a couple of Stats classes.  I haven’t taken any of these since community college – so it’s a bit of an adventure.  One of them is even a huge lecture class… my biggest class the past two years has been 15 people!  Anyhow, I’m pretty excited about these classes, just because I think I’m ready for a bit of a change of pace from the usual grad math classes.  Who knows, maybe I’ll change my major and stick around for another decade?!?!  (Just kidding, Mom!)

I’ve also started using Microsoft OneNote (comes with Office 2007) and my Wacom Bamboo USB Tablet to take my lecture notes in class.  It’s working really well so far, though I’m having a bit of trouble getting the “Tags” function to tag and highlight exactly what I want.  But my handwriting is getting better on the tablet, and I’m thrilled that I can drag things from the internet (like syllabi and powerpoints from my teachers’ websites) into OneNote and then write all over them.  It also has the best auto save I’ve ever seen!

And as a general interest aside – I aparently have a giant head.  I knew it was on the big side, but it didn’t feel truly giant until I tried to order a roller derby helmet… I think someone should do a study of the average head size of American adults, so I can know if my cranium is really catastrophically huge (or if they just make helmets smallish).

Brain Dump Complete.