Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Math 2.0 online live series: June overview

Maria Droujkova does a great job of organizing free Webinars on very interesting Math subjects. Here's the preview of June events, which I copied from the MathFuture Google Group:

Join these free, open, weekly live online events at Math 2.0 interest group and meet other interested educators, parents, developers, and community leaders for an hour of an intense discussion.

June 5th, 2010, 2pm ET. Host: Julie Harland, Mathematics Professor at MiraCosta College and creator of hundreds of math videos at YourMathGal.com. You can ask Julie questions about her projects, as well as using screencasts in your work and online education in general.

June 9th, 2010, 9:30pm ET. Host: Peter Gray, Professor of Psychology at Boston College, blogging at Psychology Today's Freedom to Learn. Peter will talk about his blog, and in particular two widely resonating posts about mathematics: the Benezet experiment, and a family learning philosophy called "unschooling." You can also ask Peter questions about his research of Sudbury schools.

June 19th, 2010, 2pm ET. Host: Kalid Azad, creator of InstaCalc, and blogger at BetterExplained. We will talk about the meaning of math insights ("a-ha moments") and interactive ways of sharing them online. People interested in the development of lightweight, embeddable math widgets can also ask questions about InstaCalc.

June 26th, 2010. Host: Ryan Goble, teacher mentor at South Bronx, graduate student at Columbia University, and creator of Making Curriculum Pop - a resource-sharing community for educators interested in better practices and teaching with pop culture. Ask Ryan about building educator communities, online learning, and using culture at large as the classroom.

To join the weekly events, follow this link in your browser to a virtual room that opens half an hour before each event: https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?password=M.FCAF787B38E30D58F943EB7232EE27

More details about the upcoming events, and full recordings of past events, are at the Math 2.0 wiki: http://mathfuture.wikispaces.com/events

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Keith Devlin on “An Apollo Program for Math”

Keith Devlin is a senior researcher at Stanford University, author, and "the Math Guy" on National Public Radio. In February, Devlin blogged about an idea of his to reverse the poor Math performance of high school students in one generation:

The US ranks much worse than most of our economic competitors in the mathematics performance of high school students.

We now have the knowledge to turn that around. We could raise the level of mathematics performance across the board, within a single school generation, so that we are number one in the world. All it would take is a one-time, national investment of $100 million over a five-year period. That’s what it would cost to build and put in place a system that could achieve that change, with the existing school system and the existing teachers. Once built, that system would be self-sustaining.


Review: How to Read Historical Mathematics

Princeton University Press sent me a review copy of Benjamin Wardhaugh's "How to Read Historical Mathematics." I was excited to receive this book because I don't know of any other books that provide a basic introduction to the subject.

From Wardhaugh's web site:

Benjamin Wardhaugh is a historian; he does research and teaches at the University of Oxford, where since October 2007 he has been a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at All Souls College. He is a graduate of Cambridge, Oxford, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and holds degrees in mathematics, music, and history. ... He teaches the history of mathematics in various periods, in both the Mathematical Institute and the History Faculty at Oxford. A selection of the many things he has learned from his students will appear in his forthcoming textbook, How to Read Historical Mathematics.

How to Read Historical Mathematics is a quick read at 116 pages. Will you become an expert at reading historical Math after you read the book? Of course not. That will take years. What Wardhaugh does exceptionally well is to break the ice for readers interested in the subject. He does this largely by training readers to ask insightful questions when they read a historical text. Here's a set of questions from the book:

How they thought: What notation does the text use? What words? What concepts? How are these different from what you would use in the same situation? Does it use words or concepts you don't recognize? Can you work out what they mean, or find out what they mean from the author's definitions? Does it use familiar words or notation, but with different meanings from what you would expect?