EPaDel Spring 2019 Section Meeting

EPaDel's Spring 2019 meeting was held March 23, 2019 at King's College, in Wilkes-Barre, PA.


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Invited Speakers

Image of Deanna Haunsperger Tim Chartier (Davidson College)
Putting a Spring in Yoda's Step

When the character Yoda first appeared on the silver screen, his movements were due to the efforts of famed muppeteer Frank Oz. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Yoda returned to the movies but this time the character was not a puppet but a digital image within a computer. This talk will discuss the role, or more aptly the force, of mathematics behind a few aspects of movie special effects. Armed with mathematics, animators can create a believable flow to Yoda’s robe or a convincing digital stunt person.

Image of Deanna Haunsperger Rachel Levy (Mathematical Association of America)
Mathematical Modeling: from Kindergarten to Industry

Mathematical Modeling is taking off at all levels of mathematics education and provides one way for students to develop meaningful connections between mathematics and the world around us. In my research, I have explored whether students as young as Kindergarten can engage in mathematical modeling in ways that resonate with the ways my undergraduates at Harvey Mudd College engaged in industry-based problems. This requires the modelers to develop and justify a useful solution to a complicated problem. Now as Deputy Executive Director of MAA, I get to support programs like MAA PIC Math, which prepare university faculty to create undergraduate courses focused on industrial problems and the MAA AMC mathematics contests, which provides opportunities for middle, high school and college students to experience challenging mathematical problem solving. In this talk I will share with you some surprising insights from four years following elementary school teachers engaging their students as mathematical modelers and discuss how this work impacted my own practice as a mathematical modeling educator and researcher.

Rachel Levy is in her first year as Deputy Executive Director of the MAA. Previously she was Professor of Mathematics and Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Harvey Mudd College and Vice President for Education for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Her most recent book, written with Rick Laugesen and Fadil Santosa, is the BIG Jobs Guide, which helps people with expertise in the mathematical sciences prepare for internships and jobs in Business, Industry and Government (BIG).

Image of Deanna Haunsperger Colm Mulcahy (Spelman College)
One, Two, Many (or a dozen reasons why mathematics isn’t as easy as 1,2,3)

Are there really primitive tribes whose system of counting goes: "One, Two, Many", indicating that from three on it’s more or less a blur? Maybe we modern humans are such a tribe. Despite the sophistication we see in ourselves compared with our less advanced ancestors from times long past, it’s surprising how little progress we’ve made in addressing some basic problems in 3D or beyond, or when solving seemingly simple equations in 3 or more variables. For despite our astonishing mastery of some ABCs, such as Air (flight, weather prediction), Biology (medical breakthroughs, DNA) and Communications (phone, video, email), we often struggle to get past 1, 2, 3 in other domains. Or sometimes even to get to 3. We'll survey a dozen fun topics in shapes and numbers and patterns whose basics and generalization can be explored with little mathematical background, and which speedily lead to "what if" questions ranging from easy to tricky to "we just don't know." Coins, cakes, fruit, bagels, cubes, squares and primes will all make an appearance. The late Martin Gardner, whose legacy will be highlighted at MAA MathFest this August, knew all too well that such playful queries can both excite students about mathematics and lead to real research at the frontiers of the subject. There will be satisfying Aha! moments, there will be room for innovative ideas, and million dollar prizes will be discussed.

Student Activity

Click here for a flier describing this meeting's student activity.

The student activity takes place in McGowan 311, starting at 1:00. It's open to all undergraduates. We hope to see you there!