Math Project Recommendations
Date: 07/16/97 at 08:13:36 From: Sagar Sen Subject: Math Project Dr. Math: I have a project to be made this year. I'm in grade 11. Please suggest some interesting projects for me. Thanks.
Date: 07/16/97 at 13:55:54 From: Doctor Dan Subject: Re: Math Project Sagar, I am glad that you are interested in a mathematics project. You did not mention what area of mathematics you were working in or any personal interests you might have. You might consider whether you can take an area you already have an interest in (soccer for example) and build a mathematics project around it (for example you might look at the growth of interest in soccer over the past twenty years as measured by participation in public recreation leagues and/or shoe sales). I have reproduced below a list of possible mathmatics projects which I have used with my own students. Most of these topics are geometrical in nature but if you check the references you will find a world of additional possibilities and ideas. I hope that I have been of some help as you think about what you'd like to do. MATH PROJECT SELECTION LIST 1. Investigate the five "perfect" (or Platonic) solids and explain why there are only five. References: "The Mathematics Teacher", April '77, p. 335. 2. Research an invention based on unusual geometric properties or configurations (e.g. Rolamite Bearing, Wankel Engine, Holograms, etc.). References: "Popular Science", Feb. '76, p. 106; "Popular Science", Aug. '76, p. 84; "Scientific American", Aug. '72, p. 15; Edmund Scientific Catalog; Student Math Notes, March 1989, Consortium Fall 1995(#55). 3. Learn about the Escher variety of periodic drawings and learn how to analyze an Escher drawing to find the unit cell, etc. References: "The Mathematics Teacher", April '74,; "The Mathematics Teacher", Dec. '76, p. 647. 4. Investigate tiling the plane with similar figures (tessellation). References: "Scientific American", July '75, p. 112; "Scientific American", Aug. '75, p. 112; Sachs, ed. Student Merit Awards, pp. 108ff. 5. Analyze and describe the construction of an accurate sundial (gnomon). Reference: "The Mathematics Teacher", May '75, p. 438; Waugh, Sundials, Their Theory and Construction, '73, New York, Dover. 6. Make and use a clinometer (sextant) to indirectly measure five lengths. Do this project only after having studied similar triangles. Reference: "The Mathematics Teacher", Feb. '76, p. 135. 7. Investigate the field of topology. References: Life Science Library, Mathematics, pp. 176-191; Sharp, A New Mathematics Reader (JML), Chapter 11; "The Mathematics Teacher", Mar. '76, p. 215; "The Mathematics Teacher", Dec. '75, p. 647; Sachs, ed. Student Merit Awards, p. 34 ff; NCTM, Enrichment Mathematics for High School; Francis, The Mathematician's Coloring Book, COMAP; Student Math Notes, Nov. 1990 8. Research the application of mathematical principles in the world of art with a written description of those principles and their application. References: "The Mathematics Teacher", April '77, p. 298; also February '91, p 133; The Life Science Library, Mathematics, pp. 84-10, Consortium #46. 9. Make a display and write a report on ancient number systems. References: "The Mathematics Teacher", May '75, p. 393; Life Science Library, Mathematics, Chapter 1; "The Mathematics Teacher", April '76, p. 296; Sachs, ed. Student Merit Awards, p. 130. Chance, Rhind Mathematical Papyrus. 10. Investigate the connection between economics and math. References: "The Mathematics Teacher", Mar. '75, p. 189; "The Mathematics Teacher", Sept. '79, p. 450; "The Mathematics Teacher", Feb. '79, p. 134; Kastner, Applications of Secondary School Mathematics, pp. 49ff. 11. Investigate and report on financial institutions and simulate investing in the stock market. References: "The Mathematics Teacher", Sept. '77, p. 493; HiMAP module in Consortium Fall '95. 12. Investigate and report on the careers of architect, civil engineer, and land surveyor. Reference: "The Mathematics Teacher", Sept. '77, p. 495. 13. Research the role of geometric shapes and properties in architecture and construction. Reference: A fine example of this kind of display can be found in the Life Science Library, Mathematics, pp. 94 ff. 14. Calculate the average distance to a McDonald's. Consortium #34 (Summer, 1990); Student Math Notes, March 1988. 15. Archimedes. Reference: Sachs, ed. Student Merit Awards. 16. Pythagoras and His Theorem, Reference: Sachs, ed. Student Merit Awards. 17. Music and Mathematics. Reference: Kastner, Applications of Secondary School Mathematics. Maor, "What is there so Mathematical about Music?" from "The Mathematics Teacher" Sept '79, pp 414-422; O'Shea, "Geometric Transformations and Musical Composition." from "The Mathematics Teacher" '72, PP 523-528, Garland and Kahn, Math and Music, (510 GAR) 18. Minimal surface experiments with soap bubbles. 19. Ciphers, Codes and the way they are broken Reference: The Mathematical Tourist, "An Application of Number Theory to Cryptology", "The Mathematics Teacher", Jan '89, p.18. "The Mathematics Teacher" Jan 91, "The Mathematics Teacher" Dec '96 p 743, also Oct 1984; Consortium Winter 1991; Malkevitch, Loads of Codes, COMAP; Consortium #37 p 3. 20. Investigate the Golden Proportion and the Golden Rectangle in art and nature. Reference: "The Mathematics Teacher" Nov. '96 p. 680. 21. How Eratosthenes Measured the circumference of the earth. 22. The theory of perspective in drawing: Consortium # 46. 23. Measurement of the distance from the earth to the moon by simple geometry. Reference: Project STAR, Where We Are in Space and Time, Unit II, Activity 7. 24. Statistics. Reference: Sachs, ed. Student Merit Awards. 25. Non-Euclidean Geometry. Many attempts have been made to prove Euclid's fifth postulate, all unsuccessful. A system of geometry that is constructed without the use of the Parallel Postulate is known as a non-Euclidean geometry. What is absolute geometry? hyperbolic geometry? elliptical geometry? Reference: Courant, What is Mathematics? New York: Oxford University Press, 1978; Insights into Modern Mathematics. Twenty-third Yearbook of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Washington, D.C.: The Council, 1957; Consortium #53. "The Mathematics Teacher" Sept 1980, April 1977, Sept 1985, Oct 1977. 26. Fibonacci Numbers. In 1202 the mathematician Fibonacci wrote about a problem concerning the breeding of rabbits. The pattern of population growth under the given constraints formed a sequence now known as a Fibonacci Sequence, famous for its applications in many fields of mathematics and nature. The Phyllotactic ratio .Reference: Brown, "From the Golden Rectangle and Fibonacci to Pedagogy and Problem Posing." "The Mathematics Teacher" 69: 180-188; Dalton, Topics for Mathematics Clubs. 2nd ed. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1983; Gardner. "The Multiple Fascinations of the Fibonacci Sequence." Scientific American, Vol. 220 No. 3, pp 116- 120; March, 1969 27. Investigation Beyond the Third Dimension. We perceive our world as one of three dimensions. Mathematicians of vision, however, have ventured beyond these limits, conceptualizing "spaces" of four and even more dimensions. How can we use algebra and geometry to extend our knowledge of the first three dimensions? Can you build a model of a tesseract, the fourth-dimensional equivalent of a cube? Reference: Abbot. Flatland. Many editions; Burger. Sphereland. (trans. by Rheinboldt) Scranton, PA: Apollo Editions (distributed by Harper and Row Publishers, Inc. NY); Henry. "The Fourth Dimension and Beyond... with a Surprise Ending!" "The Mathematics Teacher" 67:274-279; Hess. Four-Dimensional Geometry Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1977; Manning. The Fourth Dimension Simply Explained. New York: Dover Publications, 1960; Marr. 4-Dimensional Geometry, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970; Sommerville. An Introduction to Geometry of N Dimensions, New York: Dover Publications,1958; http://www.students.uiuc.edu/~ferrar/java/hypercuber/HyperCuber.html . 28. Some Special Numbers. The constants 0, 1, i, and e have many important and unique properties. What are these numbers? How are they related to each other? How did they develop in the history of mathematics? References: Bell. Men of Mathematics. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1937; Gardner. "Mathematical Games." Scientific American, Vol. 241, No 2, pp. 18-24; June, 1976; Historical Topics for the Mathematics Classroom. Thirty-first Yearbook of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Washington, D.C.: The Council, 1969; Kasner. Mathematics and the Imagination. New York: Simon and Shuster,1940; Mathematics in the Modern World: Readings from "Scientific American." San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Co., 1968; 29. Use a spreadsheet program on the computer to investigate mathematical formulas. Reference: "The Mathematics Teacher" 85, May 1992, pp 346-347. 30. Investigate the use of check digits and error detecting codes in use today. UPC bar coding, Social Security numbers, etc. References: "Consortium" Spring, 1987; "Consortium" Summer 1987; Mlkevitch. Codes Galore, COMAP 31. Investigate the curvature of surfaces. References: "The Mathematics Teacher", February '94. 32. Explore Fractals and objects having non-integral dimensions. References: Student Math Notes, Nov 1991; Consortium #41 and 45; "The Mathematics Teacher" Jan '97 p. 35. 33. Game Theory. Investigate the application of mathematics to game strategies. Zero-sum games, etc. References: Student Math Notes: May 1987. Consortium #52. 34. Investigate the technique of linear programming. "Consortium" Winter 1991 and Summer 1992. -Doctor Dan, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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