26 June, 2015
Volume 20 No. 26
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In This Issue

Grand Challenges, Revisited

BLOSSOMS in Spanish

The Statistical Atlas, Revived


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Grand Challenges, Revisited


What grand challenges do mathematics educators need to solve?

What are the field's big-picture problems — the ones that affect millions, capturing the popular imagination and political support?

A Vanderbilt University professor of mathematics education wants to know. Scroll down Ilana Horn's blog post of last week to share your brainstorms, or tweet with the hashtag NCTMGrandChallenge:


Horn serves the American Educational Research Association (AERA) as a co-chair of its special interest group on research in mathematics education. From her "teaching/math/culture" blog, she highlights these additional posts as especially popular among math teachers:

This call for grand challenges, which appeared in these pages last year, originally came from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

BLOSSOMS in Spanish


In 2011, we featured the launch of an open repository of interactive "teaching duet" video lessons created — in English and Arabic — by faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and educators in Jordan, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

Since then, MIT BLOSSOMS has added clips spoken or with voice-overs or subtitles in languages ranging from Mandarin and Urdu to Malay and Kannada.

Last Friday, they added Spanish: together with Tecmilenio ITESM University of Mexico, MIT BLOSSOMS has rolled out the first stage in a series of video lessons with Spanish subtitles, including

  • How to Estimate the Value of Pi
  • The Power of Exponentials, Big and Small
  • Taking Walks Delivering Mail: An Introduction to Graph Theory

BLOSSOMS stands for Blended Learning Science or Math Studies. With ten more lessons slated for translation by Tecmilenio, check back for new Spanish language videos:


The Statistical Atlas, Revived


Also four years ago, we featured a data visualization blog by a PhD candidate who had a background in computer science and design. Nathan Yau has since earned his doctorate in statistics; and last week, he shared a rich data portrait of the United States.

As a production of the Census Bureau, the Statistical Atlas of the United States normally follows the decadal census. Due to budget cuts, the Bureau never produced the one planned for 2010, meaning that the last official Statistical Atlas came out fifteen years ago.

So Yau took it upon himself to compile his own atlas.

Restricting himself to publicly available data from government sites, he adhered to the format of the original version — from 1874 — right down to the page length.

With brief observations and historical asides sprinkled throughout, Yau's resulting compendium handsomely maps and builds mosaic plots of information about

  • geology and transportation from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Department of Agriculture
  • weather from the National Weather Service (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • land cover and crops from the Department of Agriculture
  • population, age, race, ancestry, education, work, income, and disability from the American Community Survey, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service Cropland Data Layer
  • government finances from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
  • mortality from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

This newsletter is provided as a service of The Math Forum, an online educational community for mathematics hosted by Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.

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