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Friday, October 10, 2014

Helping All Students Experience the Magic of Mathematics

Follow on Twitter as @EverydayCalc
Oscar E. Fernandez, Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department at Wellesley College summarizes "Mathematics is a beautiful subject, and that’s something that every math teacher can agree on. But that’s exactly the problem."

We math teachers can appreciate the subject’s beauty because we all have an interest in it, have adequate training in the subject, and have had positive experiences with it (at the very least, we understand a good chunk of it). The vast majority of students, on the other hand, often lack all of these characteristics (not that this is their fault). This explains why if I’d start talking to a student about how exciting the Poincare-Hopf theorem is, I probably wouldn’t see anywhere near the same excitement as if I were to, say, let them play with the new iPhone. This may seem like a silly hypothetical, but I believe it brings up all sorts of important points.

For one, what does it say about our culture (and our future) when young people would rather be playing games on iPhones (or watching Youtube, or being on Facebook, etc.) than studying math or science? What causes our culture to be the way it is? How did companies like Apple and Facebook get students so interested in these activities? What are they doing that we math teachers aren’t?
Read more... 

Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us
By Oscar E. Fernandez

Calculus. For some of us, the word conjures up memories of ten-pound textbooks and visions of tedious abstract equations. And yet, in reality, calculus is fun, accessible, and surrounds us everywhere we go. In Everyday Calculus, Oscar Fernandez shows us how to see the math in our coffee, on the highway, and even in the night sky. 

Whether you’re new to mathematics or already a curious math enthusiast, Everyday Calculus invites you to spend a day discovering the calculus all around you. The book will convince even die-hard skeptics to view this area of math in a whole new way.
Published on: 2014-04-13.
Buy this Book

Source: American Mathematical Society (Blog)

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