Off on a Tangent
A Fortnightly Electronic Newsletter from the Hope College Department of Mathematics
September 9, 2016 Vol. 15, No. 1

Creativity in mathematics education will be the topic of next week's colloquium

Title: f (MathematicalThinking) = Creativity
Speaker: Eric Mann, Hope College Mathematics Department
Time:  Tuesday, September 13 at 4 pm 
Place:  VanderWerf 102

Creativity exists in all fields, but the nature and manifestations differ based on the discipline’s values and objectives. Mathematics is a discipline that embraces creativity and beauty yet students are often immersed in classroom activities where these attributes are hidden by an overemphasis on algorithms and computational speed.   While artists, authors, and musicians seek to invoke an aesthetic or emotional response, STEM disciplines focused on creating solutions to problems; a functional view of creativity.  Yet creativity is often limited in K-12 classrooms where students mimic established algorithms to construct, as opposed to create, solutions to known problems.  Today’s colloquium talk briefly looks at the research on mathematical creativity and its implications for the teaching and learning of mathematics. 

Upcoming Colloquia

There is currently one more colloquium on the schedule for this semester, but more will be added.
  • Tuesday, September 27 at 4:00pm, Hope students present their summer research

Ice Cream and Fun!

Please join the mathematics faculty and fellow math students for the Ice Cream and Fun event on Friday, September 16 from 3:14 to 4:14 p.m. (that's pi time to pi+1 time)  We will set up in the Van Andel Plaza located in front of the Schaap Science Center. (We will use the Science Center Atrium in case of rain). Come and enjoy delicious ice cream, some fun games, and get to know your fellow math students and faculty.

Hope to see you there!

Hope math students win awards at national conference

This summer, Hope students Jiyi Jiang, Alli VanderStoep, and Taylor Rink went on a road trip with Professors Paul Pearson and Stephanie Edwards to MAA MathFest, the second largest annual math conference in the US.  At MathFest, Alli and Taylor presented their research with Dr. Paul Pearson on using wavelets and artificial neural networks to analyze audio recordings of bird songs, and Jiyi Jiang presented her research with Dr. Yew-Meng Koh on modeling Dengue fever trends in Singapore using environmental data.

For their outstanding research and presentations, Alli and Taylor won the Janet Andersen Award for Undergraduate Research in Mathematical or Computational Biology given by the BIO SIGMAA special interest group of the MAA and the Pi Mu Epsilon national mathematics honor society.  This award was named in honor of Janet Andersen, who was a math professor at Hope College until her untimely death in 2005.

Summer research in math at Hope

It was a busy summer for math research at Hope!  The math department would like to thank and congratulate its student researchers for their hard work, fun times, and wonderful results!  Jiyi Jiang and Matt Sandgren worked with Professor Yew-Meng Koh on statistics research, Sarah Petersen did research with Professors Brian Yurk and Greg Murray on mathematical biology, and Alli VanderStoep and Taylor Rink did research with Professor Paul Pearson in mathematical biology using wavelets and machine learning. 

Alli, Taylor, Jiyi, and Sarah presented the results of their research at the annual SUMMR (Summer Undergraduate Michigan Mathematics Research) conference at the University of Michigan at Dearborn (see picture).  On Tuesday, September 27 at 4 pm, Alli, Taylor, and Sarah will talk about their summer research in the Math Colloquium.

Grace Wiesner reports on her trip to the 2016 Annual NCTM Conference

Will Dutmer (another scholarship recipient) and myself with Gail Burrell (former president of NCTM and current math ed professor at MSU)
Hello fellow mathematics education students! I want to share a tremendous opportunity that has been a game changer in my professional development. In the summer of 2015, I was honored to receive the Prospective 7-12 Secondary Teacher Coursework Scholarship from the National Council Teachers of Mathematics Mathematics Education Trust Fund. Current secondary sophomore students may apply for this scholarship and the deadline is May 6, 2017.

In addition to receiving the scholarship, I attended NCTM's annual meeting in San Francisco last April. This was a transformative experience. In addition to being with 9,000 math teachers for four days, I was introduced to many new resources (two being Number Talks
and the Math Twitter Blogosphere) and gained a better understanding of effective philosophies in math ed.

While I would be happy to talk to any current secondary sophomore students interested in this scholarship, I want to highlight the Prospective Teacher NCTM Annual Conference Attendance Award.
This gives current 6th semester or senior undergrads the opportunity to attend the 2017 Annual Meeting. The proposal for this scholarship is due November 4th and I would highly encourage anyone eligible to apply! Even if you don't receive the scholarship, it is great practice in writing a proposal (your advisor is a great resource if you do not know where to start).

If you are not eligible for either of the two scholarships above, consider applying when you meet the criteria and also keep MET grants in mind once you are in the classroom. They have a number of different scholarships
available for a variety of topics and roles in math education.

I would love to see more Hope students take advantage of the free money and resources they provide. I am more than happy to talk with anyone considering applying for either scholarship or if you want to know more about the conference!

Selfie with Dan Meyer after his keynote address. He even tweeted a question I asked him about student teaching!!

Chuck Cusack will show his mathematical art at ArtPrize this year

Chuck Cusack, a member of both the Mathematics Department and Computer Science Department at Hope College, will be competing in ArtPrize once again this year.  He creates mathematical art out of Lego bricks.  His entry this year, Increasing Asquareness, is a Fibonacci Rectangle made out of Latin squares.  You can read more about his here and you can see many pictures of this and his other mathematical Lego art on his Instagram page and his Facebook page.

Math Man visits Math Lab on opening night

As he swooped into Math Lab, everybody's favorite math superhero, Math Man, proclaimed, "Have no fear!  Math Man is here!"  He regaled everyone with stories about how to complete the cube, how to show there are infinitely many prime numbers, and how to divide by zero (his special superpower!).

Math Man declared that Hope College's Math Lab has the best, friendliest tutors of any math lab he's ever visited!  He recommends that students visit math lab often (it's free!), and come prepared by bringing paper, pencils, a big eraser, a math textbook, a calculator, a laptop, and, if possible, a few classmates to work with on homework.

The Math Lab hours in Schaap Science Center 1118 are:
Monday - Thursday, 7:30 - 9:30 pm
Sunday 6 - 8 pm

IT & Actuarial Career Opportunity Day

Auto-Owners Insurance will host an IT & Actuarial Career Opportunity Day on Friday, October 14th, 2016. This is an annual event that they host at their home office in Lansing to show students how their degrees can be used in the insurance industry. The event typically runs from 10:30am – 3pm, although they hope to implement some additional activities after the main event this year. More information is suppose to be sent out soon and we will pass on this information.

Problem of the Fortnight

"Hey, Professor Cinzori.  What's that?"
"Oh, hey, Math Man.  This thing?  It's a die."
"No, I know it's a dice -- or, I mean, die -- I always get those words mixed up.  Mostly because they don't make sense to me, I think.  I mean, if we have two dice and one die, shouldn't we have two mice and one mie? . . .  Anyway, what I was asking was what shape is that?"
"Oh, it's an icosahedron.  I always carry an icosahedral die in my pocket.  You never know when such a thing will be useful."
"How many sides does it have?"
"Twenty.  Each side is an equilateral triangle."
"How long are the sides of the triangles?"
"One centimeter."
"So what's its diameter?"
"Well, Math Man, I have to run to class.  But you have enough information now to figure it out for yourself."

The Problem of the Fortnight is to help Math Man figure out the diameter of Professor Cinzori's icosahedral die.

Write up your solution (not just the answer) on a piece of paper that has a picture of an icosahedron on it, and drop it in the Problem of the Fortnight slot outside Professor Pearson's office (Vander Werf 212) by 3:00 on Friday, September 16.  As always, be sure to include your name and the name(s) of your math professor(s) -- e.g. Polly Gawn, Professor Straightsides -- on your solution.  Good luck and have fun!

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

St. Francis of Assisi

Off on a Tangent