Clarkson’s Institute for STEM Ed Faculty Gives a Workshop at the International Mathematics Education Conference

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Katie Kavanagh and Ben Galluzzo, professors at the Institute for STEM Education

This year marked the 16th International Conference of the Teaching Mathematics of the Future Project: Building on the Past to Prepare for the Future, held at King’s College, University of Cambridge, UK. Attended by more than 200 people from 24 countries and six continents, this conference brings together researchers in mathematics education from around the world to share best practices and findings from research in pedagogy focused on creating innovative solutions to problems. . Institute for STEM Education professors Ben Galluzzo and Katie Kavanagh gave a two-part workshop on how to facilitate mathematical modeling experiments.

Mathematical modeling refers to the process of creating a mathematical representation of a real-world scenario to make a prediction or provide insight. There is a distinction between applying a formula and actually creating a mathematical relationship. The open-ended problem approach can be difficult for students, who don’t have much opportunity to think in this way. Additionally, teachers and professors often lack the confidence and experience to incorporate open-ended questions into math lessons because students may approach finding solutions in a range of possible directions.

During the workshop, participants analyzed concrete examples of situations in which students went off the rails when creating models, in particular by making choices or assumptions that affected the quality of the solution. Galluzzo and Kavanagh demonstrated how to facilitate authentic mathematical modeling so that students can be creative and innovative in the modeling process while taking ownership of their solution. Participants evaluated real-life student modeling solutions from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics’ award-winning scholarship program, rewarding high school students for excellent modeling work since 2006, called the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge (M3 Challenge – more information about https://m3challenge.siam.org/). Finally, participants shared ways they would advise teams for improvement.

“SIAM’s M3 Challenge program challenges young people big time on real problems every year, clearly demonstrating the importance and value of mathematical applications in our lives,” said Michelle Montgomery, M3 Challenge program director at SIAM. “Students are challenged to form teams and quantify a problem, develop a model to provide insight and see if it makes sense. Some teams are doing well, some teams are making good efforts, and many teams are struggling. This workshop has greatly helped many educators, and by extension their students, to feel comfortable with the process. »

Galluzzo and Kavanagh were supported by the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge (M3 Challenge) and SIAM to develop and present the workshop. They led a problem development session after the workshop to generate problems for the SIAM M3 International Challenge, which poses an authentic and open-ended question to junior and senior teams in the US and sixth form students in the UK to compete for great scholarships. . Community members and Clarkson researchers should consider submitting their own ideas for the challenge: https://m3challenge.siam.org/challenge/suggest-problems

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