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Name: Susan
Status: educator	
Age:  N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 4/5/2005


Question:
I am a math teacher for seventh and eighth graders. I need one more major math assessment for both grades other than a test or quiz. Do you have any suggestions for projects or writing assignments for the students to complete at home or in the computer lab?



Replies:
1. A biography of a "famous" mathematician. It need not focus on the mathematics, which may be beyond students at this level; however, it could serve the purpose of "humanizing" mathematicians. The recent biography and movie "A Beautiful Mind" of John Nash could show that mathematicians are human beings like the rest of us, even though they have special talents. There is a much information in books and on the Web.

2. A mathematical "time line". Just what "events" would be included could be guided by the students' grasp of concepts.

3. Famous unsolved math problems. Here, it would not be the mathematics that would be emphasized but rather the story of the attempts.

4. The history / story of famous numbers: the numbers "pi", "e", "phi"(Golden ratio), "i", "0", are examples. For each of these, and others, there are numerous "popular" books and articles.

5. The relation of mathematical concepts and "the arts". I'm thinking here of painting and music. This is a bit more advanced maybe, but there are resources available that would be age-appropriate.

6. The history of counting -- from fingers, the abacus, to supercomputers and other "counting machines". This is a huge topic so you would have to help the students focus on an appropriate sub-topic.

7. Mathematics and society: Here too the subject is vast, but examples of what I am thinking of are the books "How to Lie With Statistics" by Darrel Huff or "On Growth and Form" by d'Arcy Thompson.

Vince Calder


You could try getting the students to think about what they want to do for a career. Make them research their career and learn how that career uses math and what types of equations are commonly used. Make them write a short paper on this information. This helps them learn how math can help them achieve their dreams.

Grace Fields



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