Joint Mathematics Meetings

(For updated locations, see the timetable; All locations are subject to change)

MAA Minicourses

MAA minicourses offer a great way to get an introduction to a new mathematical concept, or a new approach to teaching a familiar course. Over two days in two sessions, you'll have hands-on engagement with the subject matter, work with colleagues who share your interest, and take ideas home to incorporate into your professional life. This year MAA presents 14 minicourses covering a wide range of topics, from differential equations and applets, to the mathematics of architecture and arts.  MAA minicourses are open to those who register for the Joint Meetings; the minicourse registration fee is US$77.

Minicourse #1: Mathematics and backgammon, presented by Arthur Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College, and Robert Koca, Community College of Baltimore County. Part A: Thursday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.; Part B: Saturday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. The game of backgammon is great fun, but it also leads to some interesting mathematical questions. We will explore these questions and see how a little knowledge of backgammon reasoning can make you a better decision maker. Conversely, we'll see how a little knowledge of mathematics can make you a much better backgammon player. There are no mathematical prerequisites beyond high school algebra, and no prior experience with backgammon is assumed. Since other backgammon experts will assist in the course, participants will get hands-on experience playing with top-notch players.

SOLD OUT Minicourse #2: A dynamical systems approach to the differential equations course, presented by Paul Blanchard and Robert Devaney, Boston University. Part A: Thursday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.; Part B: Saturday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. This minicourse will give an overview of the Boston University Differential Equations Project, originally funded by the National Science Foundation. The BU project involves a complete redesign of the sophomore-level ODE course. It includes more emphasis on qualitative and geometric methods as well as the incorporation of technology and numerical methods throughout. This minicourse will be useful to college instructors wishing to restructure their ODE courses. Participants who bring a laptop can load software and follow the demos, but bringing a laptop isn't necessary.

SOLD OUT Minicourse #3: Problem-based courses for teachers, future teachers, and math majors, presented by Gail Burrill, Michigan State University; Darryl Yong, Harvey Mudd College; Bowen Kerins, Education Development Center; and James King, University of Washington. Part A: Wednesday, 2:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.; Part B: Friday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. A math course can simultaneously engage a broad range of students and enlarge their understanding of what it means to do math. This minicourse--based on a decade of experience at the Park City Mathematics Institute--will illustrate a problem-based approach for doing just that. Participants will spend most of the time in an interactive, collaborative environment, working on problems connecting algebra, number theory and geometry, involving Pythagorean triples, Gaussian integers, lattice geometry, polynomials with special properties, and complex numbers, which will be central to the investigations. We will discuss issues of teaching such a course, originally developed for teachers at the Park City Mathematics Institute, for undergraduate majors, prospective teachers, or as part of continuing education programs for experienced teachers.

Minicourse #4: Elementary mathematics in architecture, presented by Alexander J. Hahn, University of Notre Dame. Part A: Thursday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.; Part B: Saturday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. This minicourse will give examples of basic mathematics, chiefly elementary geometry, algebra, and trigonometry, properties of vectors, coordinate geometry in two and three dimensions, and calculus that arise from and inform aspects of architecture. The architecture that is informed includes that of the classical Greeks and Romans; the domes of the Pantheon, the Hagia Sophia, the Cathedral of Florence, and St. Peter's Basilica; the designs of the vaults of the Sagrada Familia; the concourse beams and roof vaults of the Sydney Opera; as well as the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

Minicourse #5: Dance and mathematics, presented by Leon Harkleroad, Bowdoin College, and Karl Schaffer, De Anza College. Part A: Wednesday, 4:45 p.m.-6:45 p.m.; Part B: Friday, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Many dances literally embody mathematical ideas from group theory, graph theory, number theory, combinatorics, topology, and other areas. In this 'feet-on' minicourse, participants will learn many such examples, ranging from traditional folk dances to modern dance. No prior experience or ability in dancing will be assumed!

SOLD OUT Minicourse #6: Getting students involved in undergraduate research, presented by Aparna Higgins, University of Dayton, and Joseph A. Gallian, University of Minnesota-Duluth. Part A: Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.; Part B: Friday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. This minicourse will cover many aspects of facilitating research by undergraduates, such as getting students involved in research, finding appropriate problems, deciding how much help to provide, and presenting and publishing the results. Similarities and differences between research conducted during summer programs and research that can be conducted during the academic year will be discussed. Although the examples used will be primarily in the area of discrete mathematics, the strategies discussed can be applied to any area of mathematics.

Minicourse #7: Study the masters: Using primary historical sources in mathematics teaching, presented by Daniel Otero, Xavier University, and David Pengelley, New Mexico State University. Part A: Wednesday, 2:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.; Part B: Friday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. This minicourse will familiarize participants with the use of primary historical sources as a way to engage mathematics students across a variety of courses. In the first session the organizers will share their experiences with this pedagogy. Participants will discuss in groups how one such unabridged text can be used to teach the relevant mathematics contained therein. In the second session already-developed classroom modules will be examined to illustrate how others have implemented this practice. Participants will also discuss their responses to two articles reflecting on this methodology. Finally we share resources for locating primary historical texts.

Minicourse #8: Preparing to serve as an outside consultant in the mathematical sciences, presented by Kyle Riley, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and Nancy Baxter Hastings, Dickinson College. Part A: Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.; Part B: Friday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. The goal of this minicourse is to help colleagues prepare to serve as outside consultants. The course will use case studies, role-playing, and discussion sessions to explore answers to questions such as the following: What do consultants need to know? What should they do to prepare for a site visit? What can consultants do to help strengthen a department's self-study process? How can they make the most of the on-campus visit? What difficulties might they encounter and how might they respond? How can they provide constructive feedback? What role might they play following the site visit? This course is sponsored by the MAA Committee on Departmental Review (formerly known as the MAA Committee on Consultants).

Minicourse #9: Reading original sources in Latin for the historian and mathematician, organized by Amy Shell-Gellasch, Beloit College, and Dominic Klyve, Central Washington University; and presented by Kim Plofker, Union College, and Stacy Langton, University of San Diego. Part A: Thursday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.; Part B: Saturday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Historians of mathematics as well as mathematicians often find it important to their research to read original mathematical and scientific sources in Latin. Technical Latin of the late medieval, the Renaissance, and post-renaissance periods is slightly different from the classical Latin taught in schools. In this minicourse participants will learn of these differences, and will receive direct instruction in the reading of original sources in Latin from these time periods. Specialists from the field of the history of mathematics will facilitate the readings. Attendees should have a basic knowledge of Latin; review material can be acquired from the organizers in advance.

Minicourse #10: Geometry and art: A Liberal arts mathematics course, presented by Anneke Bart, Saint Louis University. Part A: Thursday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.; Part B: Saturday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Motivating mathematical concepts through art is a useful tool. Students are more likely to understand concepts such as symmetry, tessellations, or non-Euclidean geometry if they are shown prints by artists such as Escher that illustrate these topics. The challenge is to connect the art to real mathematical concepts and guide the students through the necessary steps, which takes them from observing patterns to doing real mathematics. During the minicourse we will look at examples from http://mathcs.slu.edu/escher, adapt existing explorations, and create new ones. We will discuss possible grading rubrics and explore possibilities for doing projects and field trips. In order to take full advantage of the course, participants should bring their own laptops.

Minicourse #11: Teaching differential equations with modeling, presented by Michael Huber, Muhlenberg College; Dan Flath, Macalester College; and Tom LoFaro, Gustavus Adolphus College. Part A: Wednesday, 2:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.; Part B: Friday, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Participants will learn about incorporating modeling into their differential equations courses and will do some modeling themselves using technology. The workshop will have three segments: (1) a short overview of curricular goals, what is modeling and why it is important, how modeling benefits student learning in differential equations; (2) activities and discussions in small groups on specific projects, to include modeling the dynamics of flight, stochastic population growth models, modeling malaria outbreaks, deflection in steel beams, and others; and (3) a wrap-up with references, sharing of best practices, and resources that are available to instructors and students. In order to take full advantage of the course, participants should bring their own laptops.

Minicourse #12: Using randomization methods to build conceptual understanding of statistical inference, presented by Robin Lock, St. Lawrence University; Patti Frazer Lock, St. Lawrence University; Kari F. Lock, Harvard University/Duke University; Eric F. Lock; University of North Carolina; and Dennis F. Lock, Iowa State University. Part A: Wednesday, 4:45 p.m.-6:45 p.m.; Part B: Friday, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. The goal of this minicourse is to demonstrate how computer simulation techniques, such as bootstrap confidence intervals and randomization tests, can be used to introduce students to fundamental concepts of statistical inference in an introductory statistics course. Simulation methods are becoming increasingly important in statistics, and can be effective tools for building student understanding of inference. Through easy to use online tools and class activities, participants will see how to engage students and make these methods readily accessible. In order to take full advantage of the course, participants should bring their own laptops.

Minicourse #13: Interactive applets for calculus and differential equations, presented by Haynes Miller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Part A: Thursday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.; Part B: Saturday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. For the past ten years the basic calculus and differential equations courses at MIT have made extensive use of a suite of highly interactive JAVA applets, both for classroom demonstrations and for use in homework assignments. They can be accessed at http://math.mit.edu/mathlets. This course will introduce this set of tools, illustrate how they can be used in a variety of contexts, and encourage the creation of new assignments using them and of variants of them for future development. In order to take full advantage of the course, participants should bring their own laptops.

Minicourse #14: Teaching introductory statistics (for instructors new to teaching intro stats), presented by Michael Posner, Villanova University, and Carolyn Cuff, Westminster College. Part A: Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.; Part B: Friday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. This minicourse exposes participants to the big ideas of statistics and the ASA-endorsed "Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education" report. It considers ways to engage students in statistical literacy and thinking and contrast conceptual and procedural understanding in the first statistics course. Participants will engage in many of the classic activities that all statistics instructors should know. Internet sources of real data, activities, and best practices articles will be examined. Participants will find out how they can continue to answer the three questions by becoming involved in statistics education related conferences, newsletters, and groups. In order to take full advantage of the course, participants should bring their own laptops.

MAA Minicourses are open to paid Joint Meetings registrants and require an additional minicourse fee. The MAA reserves the right to cancel any minicourse that is undersubscribed. Participants in minicourses 10-14 are strongly encouraged to bring their own laptop computer equipped with appropriate software. Instructions on how to download any data files needed for those courses will be provided by the organizers. All minicourses will be held in the fourth floor salons in the Marriott Hotel. The enrollment in each minicourse is limited to 50; the minicourse registration fee is US$77

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