M.A.T.H. Tips: Vol. 17

Do you need MO Math? A Visit to the National Museum of Mathematics

Did you know that there is a National Museum of Mathematics? MO Math is just that. Housed on 26th street in NYC, this museum has something for all ages and skill levels. There are a variety of programs for children (Expansions) as well as adults. You can take an in depth guided tour (Derivative Tour) or investigate on your own.

Check out their site for loads of content, but to give you a taste of some of their functions:

Lecture Series (past lectures available on YouTube or for purchase):

There are employment and volunteer opportunities for majors: Search Jobs

If you can’t get to New York, there are still ways to enjoy some of the museums offerings. Do some online shopping at Additions: or dive into Math Puzzles:

Math & The Olympics: Let the Games Begin!

It’s that time again; the Winter Olympics are here! How can we tie the Olympic spirit to mathematics? Share the spirit of math competitions!

There is an international competition for high school students each July called the International Mathematical Olympiad.   The competition rotates to a different country each year. The United States won the competition in 2016 when it took place in Hong Kong  This year the competition is in Romania. It will Travel to the United Kingdom in 2019 and the Russian Federation in 2020, before coming to the United State in 2021.

For two-year college students the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) puts on an annual competition through its AMATYC Student Math League.There are both school and individual winners recognized. West Valley College has won five of the past six competitions.

The Mathematics Association of America also hosts an annual team competitions for middle and high schoolers called the American Mathematics Competition (AMC)

There are dozens of such competitions nationally and internationally. Here’s a sampling:

There are also ways opportunities to include Olympic sports in math lessons. These could be used your Math for Elementary Teachers course or adapted for developmental math students.

Ready, Set, Pi Day!

Pi day is just around the corner.  This month we jump-start your Pi engines with some puzzles and ideas for celebrating Pi day.

Can Math Predict Love?

According to a Pew Research Study in 2015, 15% of American adults have used an online dating app, a 4% jump from 2013. Algorithms rule online dating apps, but can math predict love?

Turns out it depends on who you ask.

  • Mathematician Hannah Fry says math can help you find love. Watch her TED talk or read her book to find out how she uses math to find love. http://n.pr/2C11h0G
  • And for one Mathematician it just took a bit of extra data manipulation. Read about how Chris McKinley hacked OkCupid’s algorithm to find true love. http://bit.ly/2gLYBg4
  • But for NY Times contributor Maris Kreizman ditching the app turned out to be more effective. http://nyti.ms/2AwRXFu
  • Finally, a study done by Northwestern University found that machines algorithms “failed spectacularly” matching people. http://bit.ly/2BZpVPr

Course Spotlight: Precalculus

Precalculus courses take a variety of different appearances depending on the institution. From two semester Algebra- Trigonometry sequences, to one semester all in one sequence, to one semester function courses. For some students precalculus will be a terminal course and for others it is meant as preparation for calculus. The question for precalculus instructors becomes how to effectively teach to a range of abilities and outcomes? There are a range of ideas and tools that can be used to help you effectively help your students.

One tool that instructors use to help assess their class structure is a pre-class review test.  A review test at the very start of the semester helps identify weak students that need immediate remediation. This knowledge helps you to target students early who may struggle with material later in the course. Review quizzes can also be helpful before starting new units as they identify areas prerequisite deficiencies that can impede learning.

Projects and labs are another way precalculus instructors are changing the classroom. At AMAYTC several talks focused on using labs, and interactive assignments to engage students.  These types of assignments have the benefit of scaffolding for weaker students and creating interest and challenge for stronger students.

Precalculus also lends itself to a flipped the classroom model.  By flipping the classroom, a general course structure can be in place for all students and additional specific assignments can be assigned for students who need remediation and for those who want more challenging work.  In class group work helps students of all abilities by fostering discussion, deeper mathematical thinking, and retention of material.

To assess what might work best in your class, pick a day during the semester and try out a new idea or several.  If you have other suggestions, let us know and we will post them here!

Featured Resources for Black History Month

As part of Black History Month we highlight some great resources for information on past and present black mathematicians.

  • The blog Mathematically Gifted and Black features a new mathematician each day for the month of February. http://mathematicallygiftedandblack.com/
  • This month AMS published a special Notices featuring the history and accomplishments of black mathematicians http://bit.ly/2C08Dll
  • According to the Department of Education, in 2015 4.5% of mathematics degrees went to students who identified as Black or African American. Data USA has a variety of charts on mathematics demographics. http://bit.ly/2BHaek3.
  • The University of Buffalo created and maintains the website Mathematicians of the African Diaspora. The page links to resources on historic black mathematicians as well as the contributions of black mathematicians throughout history. http://bit.ly/2EIJ9f3