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Napoleon's Theorem
Posted:
Nov 2, 1994 4:43 PM


>Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 19:35:16 0500 >To: annie@forum.swarthmore.edu >From: jon@forum.swarthmore.edu (Jon Bassett) >Subject: Napoleon's Theorem >Cc: keith@forum.swarthmore.edu > >Annie: > >Keith Grove and I are putting together an interdisciplinary lesson on >Napoleon's theorem (I am a History teacher). Here is just a firt draft of >an idea for your perusal and feedback. > >I'll be teaching about the French Revolution and Napoleon, and will do a >lesson or two addressing the issue(s) of Napoleon's military prowess. I >want to get as questions such as: how did he achieve such great conquests, >was he as great as he thought he was, what kind of sources should we >consult to analyze him as a historical figure, etc. At some point in this, >I will teach a close history of a specific battle, and I'd like to set it >up as a puzzle or project for the kids. Put them in groups of 3 or pairs, >and give them the parameters of the situation, and then say "you are >Napoleon. Devise a strategy for this battle. Where will you place your >troops, who will do what when, and justify your decisions." I would then >expect the kids who also have Keith's geometry class to use Napoleon's >theorem in devising their plan, and also to explain the theorem and its >applicability to the rest of the class. > >Of course, Keith will have to be a bit ahead of me here, since he'll have >to have taught (or at least be teaching) the theorem before we get there. >(This poses no problem for either of us.) He will then require those kids >of mine who he has in geometry to explain the historical/practical >applications of the theorem to his class. > >What we'd/I'd like from you is... > >a good explanation of Napoleon's theorem (for nongeometrers if possible) >information about how/why Napoleon first thought it up, and especially >information about any particular battle(s) where he applied it. Was it a >general principle of troop placement? How did it work in the real world? >any suggestions, feedback, etc. > >Thanks! > >P.S. While writing this I had another idea. I went to an exhibit on maps >at the CooperHewitt museum of design in NYC two years ago, and saw there >an interesting and apparently famous map of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. >The map showed the French Army as a line along the route of march, and the >thickness of the line represented the number of men in the army. It was an >extremely powerful and effective illustration of the cost of the invasion: >the line was really thin at the end of the campaign, and you could see by >the sudden diminutions in thickness the effect of major battles, disastrous >river crossings, etc. Do you or anyone else at the forum know where I >could get a copy of this map? This would also seem to have obvious >applicablility to History/Math linkages... > >Thank you? > >Jon > > >
Keith



