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Applied Mathematics News

Keyword: in the classroom

Each of our new applied math majors participates in First Year Seminar.  This course assists first-year students in identifying and using specific strategies for academic, personal, and social success in college.  Our new applied math majors meet weekly with Math faculty member, Dr. Ben Wilson.  This small class size allows our majors to get to know one another and Dr. Wilson and to share their excitement for their first semester at SU. 

Dr. Rachel Grotheer, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Goucher College, spoke to our students and faculty about  the mathematics behind medical imaging devices.  Her talk was called, "Can You Reconstruct a Tiger from its Stripes?"   She explained that the medical imaging machines output data that gives us information about one of the properties of the tissue, such as how it scatters light (the “stripes"), which is only part of the whole picture (the “tiger").  Everyone really enjoyed this special seminar!

In MATH 218: Geometry, students get the chance to learn about Euclidean Geometry the way that generations of mathematicians have - by constructing the rules themselves.  Like all areas of mathematics, geometry consists of taking simple ideas (There is a line through any two points, two triangles are congruent if all of their sides are congruent) and combining them to get more and more complicated ideas (The angles in a triangle sum up to 180 degrees).  Combining these simple ideas can be difficult, and teaching students how to do this - writing a proof - is one of the biggest challenges in teaching mathematics.

Geometry is taught as an inquiry-based course. Unlike a traditional lecture format, in an inquiry-based course, students do the teaching to each other.  Dr. Mark Branson guides them through a series of problems, offering suggestions and correcting mistakes, so that students can go from solving simple problems to more complicated ones - just like mathematics!  When we approach mathematics as a puzzle to be solved, rather than a formula to learn, it's more enjoyable and productive.  The class also offers a real-life laboratory for our middle-school education students who are concentrating in Mathematics & Science to learn about this innovative teaching style.  In these pictures, you can see students presenting their solutions to various geometry problems.

A popular course for non-science majors is PHYS 115, You are Here:  Earth and Space Sciences.  This course studies aspects of astronomy, geology, hydrology, and meteorology, and how these fields are part of our daily lives. The focus of last week's lab, in Dr. Candice Duncan's class, was to learn the importance of contour maps and the information they provide, particularly, understanding that the numbers on contour maps represent elevation, and how to read a topographic map.  The students identified the highest and lowest elevation on the map and explained what the values meant.  Finally, they were asked to create their own contour lines given a map with streams and select elevations recorded.

 

Starting in the summer of 2016, all first and second semester Calculus classes at Stevenson adopted a new textbook and teaching method moving away from the traditional lecture style in favor of an active and engaged classroom experience. The textbook, Active Calculus, by Matthew Boelkins, David Austin, and Steven Schlicker out of Grand Valley State University, is free for download by students and instructors and is written to require students to be active learners. Students in Dr. Wilson's classes this semester sit at round tables in groups of 3 or 4 in the SoLVE Center and work on problems together. They then present their solutions to the class.

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