Date: Nov 16, 2006 12:23 PM Author: David Pengelley Subject: [HM] Invitation to teach with historical projects in discrete mathematics<br> and computer science Dear colleague,

Are you interested in teaching topics from discrete mathematics and

computer science with projects based on primary historical sources, with

possible NSF support? Or could you forward this to a colleague who is?

Here is an update on what we are engaged in.

A team of mathematicians and computer scientists at New Mexico State

University and Colorado State University - Pueblo has developed an

innovative pedagogical technique for teaching material in discrete

mathematics, combinatorics, logic, and computer science, with National

Science Foundation support for a pilot project. Topics are introduced and

studied via primary historical sources, allowing students to participate

in the sense of discovery, and to appreciate and gain motivation from the

context in which concepts were developed. For example, we have authored

classroom modules in which students learn mathematical induction from

Pascal's "Treatise on the Arithmetical Triangle," written in the 1660's.

Another module develops the short recursion relation for the Catalan

numbers from a seminal paper of G. Lam\'e in 1838 (based on a start by

Euler!!)

We have authored 18 modules so far; all these modules and more information

can be found at www.math.nmsu.edu/hist_projects/. These modules will

appear in a chapter of a forthcoming MAA resource book for teaching

discrete mathematics. We found that 65% of the students who completed a

course with these historical projects performed equally well or better

than the mean GPA in subsequent mathematics and computer science courses.

We are seeking to expand our pilot program with further major support from

the National Science Foundation to create a full book with a comprehensive

collection of classroom projects based on historical sources. We would

like to invite any instructors of mathematics or computer science courses

to agree to site test future projects in related courses in discrete

mathematics, combinatorics, logic, or computer science, or perhaps even to

design your own projects. We hope to be able to provide some NSF support

as travel and/or consulting for site testers.

You can see an initial draft of the projects we are planning under the new

grant proposal at www.math.nmsu.edu/~davidp/projII.pdf (separate from

what's already at www.math.nmsu.edu/hist_projects/ from our previous grant

work). If you think that you (or a colleague) would be interested in

teaching with a new project during 2008-2011, we would like to hear from

you. We plan to finalize our new NSF proposal by mid-December, and would

like to attach a brief letter of support from you if you are interested.

It would be nice if it indicated the institution, the course, nature of

students, rough timeframe, why you think it would be good for your

students, and possible choice of projects for your class.

Thanks,

David Pengelley (davidp@nmsu.edu)

Mathematics, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003 USA

Tel: 505-646-3901=dept., 505-646-2723=my office; Fax: 505-646-1064

http://math.nmsu.edu/~davidp