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Topic: Napoleon's Theorem
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Keith Grove

Posts: 70
Registered: 12/3/04
Napoleon's Theorem
Posted: Nov 2, 1994 9:43 PM
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>Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 19:35:16 -0500
>From: (Jon Bassett)
>Subject: Napoleon's Theorem
>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 non-geometrers 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.
>P.S. While writing this I had another idea. I went to an exhibit on maps
>at the Cooper-Hewitt 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?


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