A WebQuest for 11-12th Grade Mathematicians
What is a mathematician? What
like? How have some
mathematicians struggled to reach their goals?
During this project your
will research a historical mathematician and give a report to the class
on the life and times of your subject.
Your team will investigate an individual who has gained a doctorate in mathematics. Such a degree is called a Ph.D. and requires several years of intense and advanced study of mathematics. A doctoral candidate completes a culminating research project, called a thesis, which is presented to a critical panel of math professors.One particularly rich source of information about historical mathematicians is the Mathematicians of the African Diaspora web site maintained by The Mathematics Department of The State University of New York at Buffalo.
Go to the contents page and click on A Modern History of Black Mathematicians. Read the introduction paragraph the first 5-10 entries. Click on each entry and briefly scan the type of information available on the mathematicians.
Each team will produce and deliver a PowerPoint presentation with at least the following five slides:
Click here for a basic PowerPoint tutorial and guide. [No actual PowerPoint guide available]
Next, your group will select a subject mathematician to study. You make pick one from the list below or use the biographer's web references above. The suggested research topics come from the researcher's work and can be used by your group's mathematician.
Other mathematicians may have no documented area of research or their thesis may be difficult to decipher as in "Asymptotics of determinants of Toeplitz operators on the sphere." In that case, the job of the group's mathematician starts with trying to get some meaning out of part of that math jargon. She or he could choose the topic Asymptote, or Determinant (or suggest a different subject mathematician).
Keep your slides simple. Too much
information can be worse than too little. Each slide should contain a
few key points.
As a team your group will make
decisions based on what will make a good overall presentation on your
subject mathematician. Don't stop at the first web site or two, dig
a little to get better explanations or content.
In some cases the historian, biographer
or mathematics researcher won't come up with much useful information
that directly pertains to the subject mathematician. Use your
imagination to make a relevant presentation. The biographer can discuss
mathematicians in general, the historian can pick a topic related the
history of mathematics the general part of the world the subject is
Look for the "Search" button on most
every web site. That can lead you to specific information by using the
name of a person or places as a search string.
Your score for this unit will be the sum of these team and individual scores.
Beginning 1 Developing 2 Accomplished 3 Exemplary 4 Score
At the end of this WebQuest you will have researched
information on the web and created a well organized team presentation.
You have will have gained understanding of what a mathematician does
and who mathematicians are.
The amount of information from just the Mathematicians of
the African Diaspora web site may seem
overwhelming at first. However, as you start to do online research,
finding specific information on your subject mathematician may be
difficult, despite the vastness of the web.
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