Mathematicians in Math Education

1997 Math Awareness Week at the University of Kansas
Mathematics and the Internet

Summary by Bozenna Pasik-Duncan
Coordinator of 1997 Math Awareness Week at KU

Mathematicians in Math Ed
This year's theme of Mathematics Awareness Week attracted many students, faculty, teachers and parents to be involved. The Mathematics Department at the University of Kansas was enthusiastic about making the whole week filled with activities. Every day was filled with great events.

We announced many math competitions for all K-12 students throughout the state of Kansas. These competitions included "The Best Use of Mathematics and Internet" for grades 4-12 with a first prize of $300.00 and a second prize of $150.00. The judging committee was impressed by the quality of projects. Reports were supposed to present how the Internet is or might be used at your school to learn, study, or apply mathematics or how mathematics is used for the Internet. Reports were submitted by teachers and, as part of this project, the school was supposed to have activities related to the subject "Math and the Internet" during Mathematics Awareness Week. The Stock Market Project involving over 50 students won the first prize and The Weather Project involving 25 students won second prize.

The poster competition "How You Use Math in Your Life" was open to students in kindergarten through third grade. The purpose of this competition was to make all of us aware of how math is used every day. The winning posters were beautifully done, one by drawing and the other by using a computer. Competitions at the Junior High and Senior High levels were very popular and very challenging for students. The students were given a one hour math exam. We were very impressed by the students performance and attitude. A first prize of $100.00 and a second prize of $75.00 were awarded in each level. Prizes also included a TI-82 graphics calculator. Prizes were given during an awards ceremony at the end of the week attended by students, teachers, principals, parents and faculty.

Workshops for 6th graders were a real success. We had over 250 students from different local schools along with their teachers and parents. Among 19 presenters were professors, graduate and undergraduate students. Presentations included "Fast, Faster and Fastest" an activity using the most recent graphics calculator, "Weather Machine" an activity teaching students how to use the Internet to forecast the weather, "Playing with Fractal Geometry on the Internet", "Cryptography, Internet Security, Encryption" (one of the students' favorite activities), "One Way to Win a Million Dollars", and "ZAP! The Shocking Truth" (superconductivity - students loved it).

Let us quote some the students' responses:

We had extra challenging and stimulating panel discussions on "Teaching, Research and Internet: How the Internet can be effectively used in teaching and research" involving faculty from different departments on campus - chemistry, electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), communication studies, political science and others, "How KU students use the Internet for their studies" and "How the Internet can be Effectively used in Teaching" involving teachers, students, parents and faculty.

We have learned alot. We have discovered that local elementary schools do not have excess to the Internet. We hope to remedy that in the very near future.

We had special seminars on "Calculus and it's Applications to Epilepsy", "3D Graphic File Formats and the Internet: Application to education, modeling and commerce", "Control Tutorials for Matlab" and two very special events: "Calculus and the Internet" where KU Honors students met with high school students for special activities and a tour of Sprint Network Center in Kansas City, Missouri where KU students and faculty had an opportunity to see how the Internet really works. Finally, let us mention that we started the week with a proclamation of the 1997 Mathematics Awareness Week at the City Hall with a reception following and ended the week with an Awards Ceremony at which the keynote speaker, William Edwards, Chief Scientist of Sprint and adjunct professor of EECS, passed a message that "mathematicians are the best people on this planet and without them the Internet wouldn't exist."

The 1997 Mathematics Awareness Week will be one of the most memorable events for the whole Lawrence, Kansas community.

Acknowledgement: KU Math Department expresses its thanks to JPBM (Joint Policy Board for Mathematics) for encouraging us to be involved in the celebration of the 1997 Mathematics Awareness Week. It was a lovely and very memorable week.

TV chose workshops for 6th graders with the focus on "The Weather Machine." Very nice comments about the importance of Mathematics Awareness Week and its many activities.

See also: Elementary Activities at KU

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