JMM 2019 Baltimore

MAA Minicourses

MAA Minicourses are open only to persons who register for the Joint Meetings and pay the Joint Meetings registration fee in addition to the appropriate minicourse fee. The MAA reserves the right to cancel any minicourse that is undersubscribed. Participants should read the descriptions of each minicourse thoroughly as some require participants to bring their own laptops and special software; laptops will not be provided in any minicourse. The enrollment in each minicourse is limited to 50; the cost per course is US\$100.

Minicourse #1. Mathematical Inquiry and Writing through Sports, presented by Eric Kahn, Bloomsburg University, and Tricia Muldoon Brown, Georgia Southern University; Part A, Wednesday, 9:00–11:00 am, and Part B, Friday, 9:00–11:00 am. Two evidence-supported strategies to facilitate effective learning of undergraduate mathematics, topics introductory through advanced in nature, are inquiry and writing. This minicourse introduces participants to these two techniques via the real-world framework of sports. Together, participants and moderators will work through sample in-class activities used in introductory mathematics courses such as Math for the Liberal Arts and Introduction to Statistics which utilize a variety of sports in order to demonstrate learning with a mathematical inquiry approach. We will provide a session guiding participants on finding and manipulating actual sports data for use in their own projects and outline possible solutions for sample writing projects provided by the moderators. Finally, participants will spend time collaboratively designing their own inquiry-based activities and writing projects using the medium of sports. The minicourse will be run as an interactive workshop, so for the greatest impact, participants should bring a laptop with wireless internet accessibility.

Minicourse #2. Start Teaching Statistics using R and RStudio, presented by Randall Pruim, Calvin College, and Shonda Kuiper, Grinnell College; Part A, Wednesday, 9:00–11:00 am, and Part B, Thursday, 9:00–11:00 am. R is a freely available language and environment for statistical computing and graphics that has become popular in academia and in many industries. But can it be used with students? This mini-course will introduce participants to teaching applied statistics courses using computing in an integrated way. The presenters will share an approach and some favorite examples for using R to teach statistics to undergraduates at all levels.

Topics will include adopting a “Less Volume, More Creativity” approach to provide novices with a powerful but manageable set of tools, workflow in the RStudio environment, data visualization, basic statistical inference using R, and using R Markdown to create documents that include both text and R output. Much of this will be facilitated using packages developed by Project MOSAIC, an NSF-funded project seeking to increase the use of modeling and computation throughout the undergraduate curriculum. This minicourse is designed to be accessible to those with little or no experience teaching with R, and will provide participants with skills, examples, and resources that they can use in their own teaching. Participants should bring a laptop to the session. Each participant will be given access to an RStudio server account, so it is not necessary to have R or RStudio installed on the laptop. A web browser and internet capability should suffice. This course is sponsored by the SIGMAA on Statistics Education (SIGMAA STAT ED).

Minicourse #3. Advanced Authoring in WeBWorK: Turn good math problems into great ones & submit them to the OpenProblemLibrary, presented by Marianna Bonanome, NYC College of Technology, Samar ElHitti, NYC College of Technology, Michael E. Gage, University of Rochester, and K. Andrew Parker, NYC College of Technology; Part A, Wednesday, 2:15–4:15 pm, and Part B, Friday, 1:00–3:00 pm. This minicourse provides advanced training in authoring WeBWorK questions and submitting the results to the OpenProblemLibrary. After reviewing basic authoring, including PGML, participants will practice customizing hints and error messages, creating scaffolded “classwork” problems, using “niceTables” for accessibility, creating “draggable proofs” and, customizing problems which interact with R, SageMath and/or Geogebra. We’ll set up a local OPL and practice uploading problems and contributing them to the WeBWorK community OPL on We will also give directions for installing “WeBWorK-in-Docker” on your laptop thereby creating a private development site on your laptop, isolated from the rest of your work, which you can turn on or off at will. Anyone is welcome, but our focus is on those familiar with WeBWorK who want to strengthen their authoring ability and to contribute to WeBWorK’s OpenProblemLibrary. This course is sponsored by MAA Committee on Technology in Mathematics Education.

Minicourse #4. Teaching an Undergraduate Computational Science Course, presented by Joseph Eichholz and Allen Holder, Rose-Hulman Insitute of Technology; Part A, Wednesday, 2:15–4:15 pm, and Part B, Friday, 1:00–3:00 pm. This minicourse is designed to help participants offer a computational science/modeling course at their home institution. The minicourse will have three segments: (1) a short overview of curricular goals, what is computational science, how a computational science is different from a numerical analysis course; (2) discussion of several different course projects, including modeling aeronautic lift, modeling radiotherapy, signal processing, portfolio optimization and stock pricing, and modeling fluid flows; and (3) a survey of resources that are available to instructors, and discussion of best practices. Throughout the minicourse participants will be actively engaged in discussions and completing portions of the projects. A background in computational science is not assumed.

Minicourse #5. IBL SIGMAA Minicourse: Introduction to Inquiry-Based Learning, presented by Susan Crook, Loras University, Eric Kahn, Bloomsberg University, Brian Katz, Augustana College, Victor Piercey, Ferris State University, Candice Price, University of San Diego, and Xiao Xiao, Utica College; Part A, Thursday, 9:00–11:00 am, and Part B, Saturday, 9:00–11:00 am. This minicourse will be a hands-on introduction to inquiry-based learning. Inquiry-based learning is a pedagogical approach that strongly emphasizes active learning and sense-making. During the minicourse, the facilitators and participants will model some typical IBL classroom modes as teachers and students and then reflect on and analyze these experiences. Discussion will include finding and using existing resources that support inquiry-based teaching and a variety of manners in which participants can use them to integrate some IBL practices into their classrooms. The minicourse is intended for new users of inquiry-based learning and for faculty who are interested in becoming new users. By the end, the participants will be familiar with resources and facilitation methods for using inquiry-based learning in the classroom.

Minicourse #6. Visualizing Multivariable Calculus & Differential Equations using CalcPlot3D, presented by Paul E. Seeburger, Monroe Community College, and Monica VanDieren, Robert Morris University; Part A, Friday, 9:00–11:00 am, and Part B, Saturday, 1:00– 3:00 pm. This course explores the use of CalcPlot3D to visualize topics in multivariable calculus and differential equations. CalcPlot3D is a versatile JavaScript web app for use on phones, tablets and computers, developed by the presenter through NSF-IUSE #1524968. Participants will use the app to visually verify problems from a variety of topics in both courses including the plane through 3 points, the intersection of two surfaces, the domain of a function of two variables, the general solution of a 1st-order differential equation, and general solutions of systems of differential equations. We will also explore a series of hands-on concept explorations designed to facilitate student understanding through exploration and visualization of a series of dynamic examples. Exploration topics include: dot product, cross product, velocity & acceleration vectors, Lagrange multiplier optimization, planes and lines in space, translations and transformations of surfaces, and TNB frames. Participants will learn to customize this app to create dynamic demonstrations and guided exploration activities of their own for student use and create files for 3D printing surfaces from the app. Participants will receive 3D glasses. Bring a laptop. See This course is sponsored by WebSIGMAA.

Minicourse #7. Using Data Applications to Inspire Linear Algebra Topics in the Classroom, presented by Tom Asaki, Washington State University, Amanda Harsy, Lewis University, Heather A. Moon, Lewis-Clark State College, and Marie A. Snipes, Kenyon College; Part A, Wednesday, 9:00–11:00 am, and Part B, Friday, 9:00–11:00 am. This minicourse is designed for participants who wish to incorporate data applications into their linear algebra courses. It provides a hands-on introduction to two data applications that inspire a host of linear algebra topics in the classroom: brain scan tomography (3d image reconstruction) and heat diffusion (diffusion welding and image warping). Participants will work with these applications using either Matlab or Octave, but no prior experience with these programs is required. There will also be time for pedagogical advice and group discussions regarding how to adapt the provided code and materials to one's own course.

Minicourse #8. Dance and Mathematics, presented by Karl Schaffer, De Anza College; Part A, Thursday, 9:00 –11:00 am, and Part B, Saturday, 9:00–11:00 am. In this Minicourse we will present several activities which combine dance and mathematics content in nontrivial ways. The activities connect to a variety of dance forms, as well as to several areas of mathematics, including symmetry, number theory, combinatorics, dynamical systems, and topology. Participants will take away activities useful in a wide range of undergraduate math classes or math clubs. The activities are collaborative and physically comfortable, and easily performed by those with little or no dance experience. These include folk dances, improvisations, and choreographic exercises with specific mathematical content, as well as kinesthetic tasks involving explorations of mathematical principles. In all cases, mathematics will illuminate the dance explorations, and the dance activity will realize, in kinesthetic form, the mathematical concepts.

Minicourse #9. Mathematical Art from Complex Analysis, presented by Frank Farris, Santa Clara University; Part A, Wednesday, 2:15–4:15 pm and Part B, Thursday, 1:00–3:00 pm. Learn the theory and practice of making art with the domain-coloring algorithm, a distinctive approach to creating patterns from continuous, complex-valued functions. Students will learn to use the open-source SymmetryWorks software package (Windows and Mac), written by students at Bowdoin College, to turn their own photographs into rosettes, friezes, and wallpaper patterns. We also connect to the theory of complex variables, with visual connections to analytic and nonanalytic functions. Being able to make your own images will enhance your teaching of abstract algebra, complex variables, and many other courses; besides, it’s fun!

Minicourse #10. Object Based Learning and the Smithsonian Learning Lab, presented by Amy Shell-Gellasch, Eastern Michigan University; Part A, Thursday, 1:00–3:00 pm, and Part B, Allowing students to handle and study physical objects (object based learning) in the classroom enhances interest and understanding. However it is not always convenient or possible to bring physical objects into the classroom. In those cases, images, videos, even audio can provide the same pedagogical benefits. In particular, museum and library collections such as the vast Smithsonian holdings are a wealth of mostly untapped material for the classroom. In 2016 the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access launched the Smithsonian Learning Lab (SLL). The Learning Lab is a free online resource platform for educators and is ideal for objected based learning in and outside of class. College educators have used this platform in all courses of study. Choose from over 2 million images and resources at the Smithsonian or import materials from other sources. Create a collection of items and materials for your course that students then access in class or at home for discussion or assignments. Students can also create their own collections for assignments or portfolios.

In this four-hour minicourse, we will explore methods and resources for using object based learning in the classroom. Participants will then create a free Smithsonian Learning Lab login, learn how to access Smithsonian materials, and how to create a course collection of annotated materials from the Smithsonian collections and beyond for use in a class they teach.

Minicourse #11. How to Run Successful Math Circles for Students and Teachers, presented by Jane H. Long, Stephen F. Austin State University, Gabriella Pinter, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Diana White, University of Colorado Denver and National Association of Math Circles; Part A, Thursday, 1:00–3:00 pm, and Part B, Saturday, 8:00–10:00 am. Math Circles are a unique form of outreach through which mathematics professionals share their passion for mathematics with K-12 students and teachers. During a Math Circle, participants explore, create and communicate substantive mathematics, increase their problem-solving skills, and perhaps most importantly, develop a deeper enjoyment of the subject. Including all types of Math Circles, there are currently over 250 Math Circles across the United States. In this minicourse, participants will experience Math Circle activities and discuss related topics including effective facilitation of sessions, recruiting, logistics, and successful Math Circle models. Participants should be well on their way to starting their own Math Circle after this course. This course is sponsored by SIGMAA on Math Circles for Students and Teachers (SIGMAA-MCST).

Minicourse #12. Keep Teaching Statistics using R and RStudio, presented by presented by Randall Pruim, Calvin College and Shonda Kuiper, Grinnell College; Part A, Friday, 1:00–3:00 pm, and Part B, Saturday, 1:00–3:00 pm. This minicourse is intended for those who are already familiar with R and RStudio or who have co-registered for the Start Teaching Statistics using R and RStudio minicourse and will provide an introduction to additional aspects of R that are useful for teaching statistics and data science courses at a variety of levels. Topics will include data wrangling (obtaining data and transforming it into useful formats) using the tidyverse suite of tools, creating interactive instructional resources (e.g., with learnr tutorials or shiny documents), as well as additional modeling topics (such as simulation-based inference, machine learning, and visualizing models).

Participants should bring a laptop to the session. Each participant will be given access to an RStudio server account, so it is not necessary to have R or RStudio installed on the laptop. A web browser and internet capability should suffice. This course is sponsored by SIGMAA Stat Ed.