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Invitation to join NSF program teaching with historical projects in discrete mathematics and computer science
Posted:
Dec 14, 2007 6:03 PM


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 20082011. 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 20082011 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 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.
You can see a description of the new projects we are planning under the expansion grant at http://www.math.nmsu.edu/~davidp/projII.pdf, or at the rough beginnings of our new web pages for the expansion grant at http://www.cs.nmsu.edu/historicalprojects/.
If you or a colleague would be interested in teaching with a new project during 20082011, we would like to hear from you.
Thanks,
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 (davidp@nmsu.edu) Mathematics, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003 USA Tel: 5756463901=dept., 5756462723=my office; Fax: 5756461064 http://math.nmsu.edu/~davidp



