A Geometry Forum featured project

Johnny & Margaret Hamilton: Math to Build On

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Math to Build On

One of the great hopes of the Geometry Forum has been, and is, that mathematicians at all levels will meet here and enrich each other's work. In many ways the activity of the Forum has surpassed our expectations in this respect. Until recently however, there has been little help in one of the most recalcitrant areas of math reform, the use of applications.

Johnny Hamilton brings a rare blend of experience. Many professionals don't learn the math that would make their jobs easier. Few math teachers have much professional experience with the occupations that use a broad range of the math they are teaching -- yet the use of applications is promoted to math teachers as a way to engage the interest of students and to make sure that the basic skills are taught for the positions we need them to fill.

What can we do as teachers aside from arranging for guest speakers?

Math to Build On covers much of the basic math used in the construction trades and gives us practice in its application. We offer a few sections here so that other teachers can see some of the possibilities for alternative introductions to these fundamental concepts, and students can finally answer for themselves the question, "When will I ever use this?"

Perhaps most important, the use of Hamilton's materials may make it easier for many of us to do our homework.

We are working to offer resources through the Forum to connect math classrooms with applications of mathematics. If you know of any person, text, or organization that would aid in this goal, please drop us a note.

Steve Weimar
Program Administrator
The Geometry Forum

We met Johnny Hamilton through his contributions to the Forum newsgroup geometry.pre-college. When Art Mabbott posted a question about bending conduit pipe, Johnny answered. Then, having broken the ice, he introduced himself and initiated a series of discussions around questions about the utility of math and how to educate the workforce.

When we saw the books Johnny and Margaret Hamilton have written and published, Pipe Fitter's Math Guide and Math to Build On, we persuaded them to let us offer portions of the latter here on the Web. We can't give you the whole book -- if you'd like to order it, write to Johnny Hamilton or consult the Construction Trades Press Web page for details -- but we've tried to provide a good sample, including directions for functions using a calculator, memory aids for fractions, decimals, and functions, and simple constructions to make.

Sarah Seastone
Editor & Web Site Archivist

On to Math to Build On

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Johnny & Margaret Hamilton
Construction Trades Press
Please direct inquiries to main@constructpress.com
23 October 1995
Web page design by Sarah Seastone for the Geometry Forum