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EducationTips from the Math Forum
Tips from the Math Forum

By Gene Klotz

Sponsored by Philadelphia's Drexel University, the Math Forum @ Drexel was launched early in the history of the World Wide Web as a place where math teachers could talk about teaching. Students and non-school folks with their own interests and curiosities soon discovered the site and joined the conversation. Today, the Math Forum offers much more than discussion.

The following are a dozen math resources—six from the Forum itself, and six from the larger pool of the Internet—that our members would recommend to science centers looking to help their visitors see and understand the math all around them.

On the MathForum

  • Symmetry and Pattern, the Art of Oriental Carpets was created with Carol Bier of the Textile Museum. A nice answer to "Where's the math?" in one particular world.
  • Ask Dr. Math is indexed by grade level and topic, but don't be put off. The volunteers who answer questions here bring experience and perspectives from engineering, business, government, law, biology, computer science, psychology, and many other areas of life. Post to Ask Dr. Math, making it clear that your question is museum-related, and you'll get serious attention.
  • The Internet Mathematics Library welcomes formal and informal learners (our search engine knows dozens of ways to spell "Pythagoras"). Check Applications/Connections at the end of Mathematics Topics, or look at the Museums section under Resources, subcategory Organizations (let us know how we can improve this area).
  • The Internet Newsletter is in its 10th year of weekly reporting on Internet math resources. Many topics here have a science component—take a browse!
  • Math Tools is a digital library containing over 3,000 software tools for teaching and learning mathematics. If you don't see what you want, ask; perhaps a developer can answer your wish.
  • Problems of the Week (PoWs) are creative, nonroutine challenges for students that might be helpful for after-school programs. Technology Problems of the Week (tPoWs) are now offered in Spanish.

Beyond the MathForum

There are hundreds of mathematics resources on the Web. The following are a few recently featured in our Internet Newsletter. The first two are high quality and high level; the rest are more accessible.

  • Mathworld is "a comprehensive and interactive mathematics encyclopedia intended for students, educators, math enthusiasts, and researchers." A nice resource if you know what you're looking for; otherwise fun to browse. Check out Headline News, for example, for an explanation of the math behind tsunamis.
  • The Mathematical Atlas, a Gateway to Modern Mathematics, is a collection of short articles that introduce the subject areas of modern mathematics, describe a few of the milestone results and topics, and point to further information.
  • MathSite is an interactive source for seeing, hearing, and doing mathematics.
  • iLumina is a digital library of shareable undergraduate teaching materials; math downloads include applications for modeling real-world phenomena like world population growth, predators/prey, and marine pollution.
  • Faces of Mathematics focuses on 20 influential mathematicians alive today (including four women), revealing the human side of mathematical endeavor.
  • Phyllotaxis is an interactive site for the mathematical study of plant pattern formation.

Gene Klotz is the Buffington Professor of Mathematics, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and founder of the Math Forum @ Drexel. Science centers interested in partnering with the Math Forum are invited to write to him at gene@mathforum.org.

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