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Q&A #317


Problem Solving Approaches

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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Mar 17, 1998 at 17:30:27
Subject: Re: Problem Solving Approaches

You probably realize that asking for a definition of a problem-solving 
approach will yield a variety of responses. In its purest sense, a problem is 
posed and the students learn the mathematics and other things they need to 
know in order to solve the problem. (This is sometimes called PBL Problem 
Based Learning). 

The best example I currently know of this as a curriculum is the ARISE 
Project created by COMAP, now published by South-Western Publishing 
(International Thompson Pub.) under the title <I>Mathematics: Modeling Our 
World.</I> Contact South-Western Publishing Co. at 

http://www.swep.com/

For example, consider looking at only a two-dimensional view of a six-pack of 
cola. Discuss possible definitions of efficiency such as most space covered 
by the cola cans. Then challenge: is this the "best" configuration for cola 
cans? What other shapes might they take? What makes them best? How efficient 
are they?  

Wonderful kinds of mathematics flow out of such a problem. 

COMAP itself publishes a quarterly magazine that usually has at least one 
good problem like the one above. It would help if I knew what area and grade 
level you are interested in.  ARISE is just one of the NSF sponsored 
projects. It is geared for 8th-11th grade. There are similar programs for 
other grade levels.

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