Category: History of Math

The Calculus Tweetwars

I wanted to wait until I was SURE that this was going to happen before I mentioned it here.  My Honors Calculus II students have decided to “tweet” The Calculus Wars for modern times. Their assignment was to read “The Calculus Wars” by Jason Socrates Bardi, and then come up with a project (individually or collectively) that requires them to further explore something from the book.  A few years ago, I had one student in this course and he build the Leibniz Calculating Machine the animation software Blender (you can see it here). Anyways, this year, there are three students.  During our discussion of the book, we observed that the scientists involved were like the bloggers and tweeters of their time, sending and publishing an incredible amount of correspondence (some anonymous) via really old-fashioned mail (i.e. SLOW).  Then we wandered into what it would look like if the Calculus Wars happened today and all the characters were in Facebook (friending, unfriending, fan pages, wall posting, etc.).  Ultimately, the students decided to work together to create a modern-day recreation of The Calculus Wars.  Facebook turned out to be too difficult (each follower would have to “friend” each character in order to see the storyline play out). The students have written a rather lengthy script that includes a rather large cast of characters.  In order to get the twitter accounts, they...

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History of Tools in the Teaching of Math

Somewhere around hour #28 of dissertation research, I began looking for the answer to this question: Anyone know a resource where someone has documented a timeline of math technologies for teaching or math innovations (pedagogical) that have been introduced? Today (at hour #53) I stumbled across a possible answer to this question. Yes, there is a book (with a 2008 copyright) that outlines tools of American Mathematics Teaching.  I’ve got it ordered, so I can’t review it yet, but for those of you intrigued about technologies (computer-based and other) I thought I would at least pass along the resource! In Tools of American Mathematics Teaching, 1800–2000, Peggy Aldrich Kidwell, Amy Ackerberg—Hastings, and David Lindsay Roberts present the first systematic historical study of the objects used in the American mathematics classroom. They discuss broad tools of presentation and pedagogy (not only blackboards and textbooks, but early twentieth—century standardized tests, teaching machines, and the overhead projector), tools for calculation, and tools for representation and measurement. Engaging and accessible, this volume tells the stories of how specific objects such as protractors, geometric models, slide rules, electronic calculators, and computers came to be used in classrooms, and how some disappeared. Possibly Related Posts: Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast about ESIL Lens Add Graphs In The World to Courses Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra Group Exploration in Math Elaborations for Creative Thinking...

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45th Carnival of Math

If I’ve counted correctly, this is the 45th Carnival of Math. I’m going to call this the Procrastination Edition (since for most of us, we are getting into that end-of-the-semester crunch and if you’re reading this, it is probably because you’re avoiding paper-grading, test-writing, or some kind of emergency end-of-the-semester meeting). If you’re postponing the grading of Number Theory assignments, then go over to 360, and read their submission called Perfection (about perfect numbers and their appearance on the TV show Bones). If you’ve got a stack of History of Math projects to grade, and you’d rather not, take a look at Jason’s submission On the Ancient Babylonian Value for Pi. If there’s a stack of Business Math tests you’re hiding from, check out Vlorbik’s submission, Trust the Code. If you’ve got to write a test on sequences, here’s a post about geometric progressions that you’ll have to read instead, The Sex Lives of the Jade Emperors. Bonus for you if you can work it into a test question and avoid the Dean’s office. If there’s a decision you’re trying to make, or avoid making, check out the awesome decision tree in Parts Assembly and the Burr Puzzle Antimatroid. If you’ve just got too much to do, maybe you can comfort yourself by using the Pigeonhole principle to prove to yourself that someone else out there in the world...

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