Engineering and Math Challenge
This past academic year, the Math Forum has been
problem-solving with Philadelphia public school students.
Through a series of school-based collaborative practice
sessions and competitive events held on the Drexel University
campus, the Philadelphia Engineering and Math Challenge (EMC)
has encouraged local teens to engineer solutions and apply
mathematical reasoning to real-world contexts.
On Wednesday, we held our final event before the summer recess.
Please help yourself to instructional materials from EMC, each
aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In
particular, check out the free downloads of the Engineering
Solutions projects, which have ranged from aiming lasers to
making ice cream:
Quiz Bowls have enlivened events with short math puzzles:
The Philadelphia EMC is sponsored by Drexel University, the
Math Forum @ Drexel, the National Society of Black Engineers,
and the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition.
PoW taking place: math problem-solving moment of the week
"I was stuck. Because none of these weren't given, I began to
brainstorm what was familiar to me. Since in my class, I have
done a similar problem to this, I made the problem more
understandable for me by connecting the steps with this
problem. Once again, I brainstormed what I know about arc,
chords, and circles. One thing I came up with was.... Another
idea was that.... The last thought was that.... Even after all
that brainstorming, I asked myself what made this such a
challenging problem — but that's when it hit me: I don't know
where the center of the circle is."
- Britney, highlighted in the Geometry PoW's Latest Solution
Known affectionately around Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and
online as "the Mathman," Don Cohen has listened to a lot of
young people encounter, and think through, mathematics. The
veteran tutor has compiled over 100 of his students'
discoveries, each accompanied by their original handwritten or
-drawn work, and extended by Cohen's questions.
The author of Changing Shapes with Matrices also offers
a Map to Calculus™:
The numbered bubbles in that diagram correspond to the chapters
from his spiralbound Calculus By and For Young People, first
featured in these pages more than a decade ago and once reviewed
by Scientific American magazine as conveying, "with infectious
enthusiasm, the work of many beginners in one fine
Last week — after four decades of tutoring full time, still
averaging upwards of 40 sessions a week — Cohen retired. In a
recent interview with the east central Illinois newspaper The
News-Gazette, Cohen listed these three distinguishing
characteristics of his approach: "One, I have a sense of humor.
Two, I expect the kids to do well. Three, I expect them to do
things different from how I do them."
Now taking place: math education conversation of the day
"Our students took about the same time as yours. I was proud of
them for really sticking with it."
- Brian, posted to the secondary (grades 9-12) discussion group
of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State
What Works: Improving Mathematical Problem Solving, Expanded
On Monday, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) expanded
the content accompanying its free practice guide for improving
students' mathematical problem solving in grades 4 through 8.
IES' "Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4
Through 8" now includes video presentations about each of the
five recommendations, as well as an interview of one of the
guide's authors. What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has further
added to this publication — first featured in these pages upon
its release two summers ago — with new ideas for
implementing these strategies in classrooms.
IES rated these two recommendations as backed by the strongest
evidence: "Assist students in monitoring and reflecting on the
problem-solving process" and "Teach students how to use