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Topic: Martian Math (retrospective)
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kirby urner

Posts: 3,514
Registered: 11/29/05
Martian Math (retrospective)
Posted: Aug 10, 2010 5:06 PM
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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 K-12 cohort (6th-8th grade).

(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.

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....):

Those following some of the other threads on math-teach will recognize
various allusions perhaps. The D.M.Y. Sommerville paper on space-filling
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 cube-oriented). Tetrahedral mensuration is boldly
included, not trying to hide it behind some hedge or firewall.

Here's the Table of Contents, questions & comments welcome:


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