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Q&A #19281


Math history for middle school students

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From: Claire (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jan 28, 2008 at 09:31:46
Subject: Re: Math history for middle school students

Hi, Gilly --

Thanks for writing to T2T. I'm happy to hear you are including history of
math in your program. There are some fascinating stories that make it come
alive.

The closest thing I've seen to a curriculum is NCTM's book Mathematical
History: Activities, Puzzles, Stories, and Games.
"The materials in this book are planned to enrich the teaching of mathematics
in grades 47 by relating mathematics to its history. This edition has been
enhanced by new materials designed to foster further insights and contains
more than eighty selections grouped in suggested grade levels."
http://my.nctm.org/ebusiness/ProductCatalog/product.aspx?ID=12058

Here are some other good resources you might want to supplement with:

For a bit of fun, visit Solve This! at
http://library.thinkquest.org/TQ0312134/
It was created by three former fifth grade students of mine.

For a one-stop comprehensive source, MacTutor History of Mathematics archive
can't be beat. The basic biographies are engaging and approachable, and there
is plenty to dig into for the more curious.
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.html

Literature could provide another avenue. The Number Devil is a particular
favorite of mine for putting some important mathematical ideas into a
historical context.

Two of my favorite print resources on women in math, both written for young
people:
* Celebrating Women in Mathematics and Science. ed. Miriam P. Cooney;
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
* Women and Numbers: Lives of Women Mathematicians plus Discovery Activities.
Teri Perl; Wide World Publishing/Tetra.

You can find lots more web resources by going to The Math Forum's Internet
Library: http://mathforum.org/library/
Click on History and Biography under Mathematics Topics.

If/when you ever get time to develop some curriculum of your own, this topic
makes a wonderful focus for interdisciplinary work, assuming you either have
a self-contained classroom, or colleagues eager to collaborate. There is much
to be gained by learning about the social/political/cultural/scientific
contexts that surround the history of math.

I hope this helps you get started. I'd love to hear about what you do. Please
write again if you have other questions.

Good luck!

 -Claire, for the T2T service

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