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Topic: Invitation to join NSF program teaching with historical projects in discrete mathematics and computer science
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David Pengelley

Posts: 61
Registered: 12/3/04
Invitation to join NSF program teaching with historical projects in discrete mathematics and computer science
Posted: Dec 14, 2007 6:03 PM
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Dear colleague,

We have received NSF Phase 2 collaborative expansion grant funding for
developing, testing, and disseminating the teaching of discrete
mathematics and computer science via student projects based on primary
historical sources during the years 2008-2011. This builds on the
development of initial projects and testing under our Phase 1 pilot grant.
Our expansion grant already has about 20 faculty at other institutions
planning to test the new projects we will create, with some authoring new
ones as well.

We are writing now to invite any additional instructors who might wish to
test our future projects during years 2008-2011 in courses in discrete
mathematics, combinatorics, logic, or computer science, or perhaps even to
design your own projects. We can provide some NSF support for travel
and/or consulting for site testers. And some of us will be at the Joint
Mathematics Meetings in January 2008 in San Diego, and would be happy to
meet interested people there.

The pedagogy of our projects is that 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 authored 18 project modules under the pilot grant; all these modules
and more information can be found at
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

You can see a description of the new projects we are planning under the
expansion grant at, or at the
rough beginnings of our new web pages for the expansion grant at

If you or a colleague would be interested in teaching with a new project
during 2008-2011, we would like to hear from you.


David Pengelley

for our team of 7 PIs in mathematics and computer science at New Mexico
State University and Colorado State University - Pueblo

David Pengelley (
Mathematics, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003 USA
Tel: 575-646-3901=dept., 575-646-2723=my office; Fax: 575-646-1064

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