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Martian Math (retrospective)
Posted:
Aug 10, 2010 5:06 PM


Those tracking me in other groups may be aware of the Martian Math class I've been teaching. Thanks to the Math 2.0 group, I became more aware of the social networking tools available to math teachers, and developed a site on Wikieducator.
Wikieducator is where a teacher will typically archive some course content, perhaps in cahoots with a peer group, then use this content in the context of various curricula, either directly or indirectly. In my case, indirectly as these "heuristics for teachers" are not what I communicate directly in the classroom, where I was working with a K12 cohort (6th8th grade).
http://wikieducator.org/Digital_Math
(Glenn Stockton taught the Neolithic Math section, also one of the two martial arts offered).
The context was a small liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon, sharing facilities with a Silicon Forest derived NGO known as Saturday Academy, which I've written about here before. Their offices face the downtown county library (Multnomah County).
The venue was on the other side of the Willamette River, in the sleepy hollow known as Woodstock or thereabouts (near Crystal Springs, the rhododendron garden). The web site for the course included a Google Earth view of the campus.
http://www.4dsolutions.net/satacad/martianmath/mm17.html
Martian Math is an interpretive curriculum with a lot of freedoms left to the actual teacher on the ground. There's a focus on science fiction as a legitimate genre for brainstorming about the future, with contending distopian and utopian views. On the distopian side, we have War of the Worlds in which Martians invade (H.G. Wells  also Orson). On the more utopian side, the Red, Green and Blue Mars series tell a tale of Earthlings gradually terraforming this smaller planet, turning it into someplace habitable. The course leaves plenty of room for talking about the chemistries involved, however in this actual implementation, we spent more time on RBG color and changing the Python source code (scaffolding provided, as a part of the net slides).
I've spent a lot of this summer working through those campaigns for a discrete / digital math course as a fall high school offering, the planning workshop having taken place Aug 7 of last year (so a year has gone by). I'd proposed updating the geeks on our progress at this year's OSCON (open source conference) but ended up attending the AAPT conference instead, and finding out more about what the physics teachers were up to (more use of social networking tools than most math teachers, it seemed to me....):
http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2010/07/physicsconference.html http://www.mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=2097005&tstart=0
Those following some of the other threads on mathteach will recognize various allusions perhaps. The D.M.Y. Sommerville paper on spacefilling tetrahedra (1923) is alluded to, as tetrahedra characterize Martian Math more than cubes do. We care about those Mites, Sytes and Kites, even if this is alien nomenclature to the rank and file Earthlings and their more qyooban math (more cubeoriented). Tetrahedral mensuration is boldly included, not trying to hide it behind some hedge or firewall.
Here's the Table of Contents, questions & comments welcome:
http://www.4dsolutions.net/satacad/martianmath/toc.html
Kirby
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