Applied Mathematics News

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.

The department was excited to participate in the Maryland STEM Festival by hosting Mathstravaganza 2016! There were many math activities and games set up as booths and all run by our math and math education students along with some faculty. We had a lot of local children attend and learn how math and logic are fun and an integral part of their lives. Special thanks to Dr. Ben Wilson for organizing this event! We’re looking forward to doing this again next year!

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.

Happy Halloween from the Math and Physics Department! It was a fun day on campus!