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Other Mathematical Sessions

Other Mathematical Sessions

  • MAA Prize Session
    Friday, 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m., Ballroom AB

    The session is organized by Barbara Faires, Westminster College, MAA Secretary, and is moderated by Paul Zorn, St. Olaf College, MAA President.

  • Alder Award Session
    Friday, 2:00- 3:20pm, Ballroom A
    The session will be moderated by Paul Zorn, St. Olaf College, MAA President

    Presentations by the Alder Award recipients:

    I Failed and No One Died
    Presenter: Kathryn Leonard, California State University Channel Islands
    Friday, August 3, 2:00 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.
    Michael Starbird has described mathematics as the process of becoming progressively less wrong. Indeed, our first attempt at solving a problem almost always fails. The eventual solution depends on our ability to extract meaning from failure, reformulating our mistakes into a new approach. Despite the familiarity with failure implied by that process, we typically drape the word in dour, black tones—this student failed the midterm, that colleague failed to get a grant, the person in question is now A Failure—and follow it with concerned head shaking and averted eyes. Contrarily, this talk will describe some of my attempts to embrace failure, and to help my students do the same.

    An ORnate ORation on OR
    Presenter: Susan Martonosi, Harvey Mudd College
    Friday, August 3, 2:30 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
    Operations research (OR) is the use of mathematical thinking to make systems, processes and decisions more efficient. It is naturally appealing to mathematics students who want to understand how the mathematical theory they are learning can be applied to solve important problems. At Harvey Mudd College, student interest in OR has been consistently growing in response to increased course offerings, research opportunities and industry-sponsored capstone projects. In this talk (which, in truth, is unlikely to be ornate) I'll discuss the field of OR and its appeal to students, the OR curriculum we have in place, and best practices (along with pitfalls to avoid) in introducing OR to your students.

    Practicing What We Preach: Evidence-based Evaluation of your Classroom Teaching and Pedagogical Innovations
    Presenter: Michael A. Posner, Villanova University
    Friday, August 3, 3:00 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.
    Abstract: Every teacher is unique. Some of us have impeccable recall, some are experts in applications while other revel in the more theoretical, some are incredibly organized, and others might deserve an off-Broadway production. Therefore, the way we teach should be unique and personal as well. Some lecture very effectively, some use inquiry-based learning, some show videos, some have class projects, some create applets or apps. But the common themes of what makes good teachers are engaging students to master learning objectives and, perhaps, inspire them to learn more. Yet, when we evaluate our teaching or try out something new in the classroom, we rely on personal feelings or voluntary student feedback. I have sought to explore the efficacy of my teaching through classroom-based studies. I will share several of those classroom-based studies, describing both the process and the outcomes, and explore strategies that you can use to engage in your own research on your pedagogical innovations. 

  • MAA Business Meeting
    Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 p.m., Ballroom AB 

    The meeting is organized by Barbara Faires, Westminster College, MAA Secretary, and is chaired by Paul Zorn, St. Olaf College, MAA President.

  • MAA Section Officers Meeting
    Thursday, August 2, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

    This session is moderated by Richard A. Gillman, Valparaiso University, Chair of the MAA Committee on Sections. It is open to all section officers and their guests. The session consist of a short workshop on running effective meetings, together with brief reports from the Association headquarters and from selected sections.

  • SIGMAA RUME Session: Supporting Students' Reinvention of Formal Limit Definitions
    Session 1: Thursday, 4:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Hall of Ideas F
    Session 2: Friday, 4:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Hall of Ideas F

    • Kyeong Hah Roh, Arizona State University; Stacy Brown, Pitzer College; and Michael Oehrtman, University of Northern Colorado
    • Michael Oehrtman, University of Northern Colorado; Jason Martin, University of Central Arkansas; Craig Swinyard, University of Portland; and Brian Fisher, Pepperdine University

    Both intuitive and formal aspects of limit concepts have proven difficult for undergraduate students in lower-division mathematics and introductory proof courses. Our research has investigated the cognitive challenges these students encounter while developing and formalizing a robust understanding of a variety of limit concepts. We also seek to identify particular solutions, general characteristics of students’ inquiry, and instructional supports which foster effective and lasting resolutions to these challenges. The two sessions of our workshop will focus on the translation of our research results to instruction in undergraduate mathematics courses.

  • During the first session, we will present an instructional cycle that supports students' reinvention of formal definitions for sequence convergence, series convergence, and pointwise convergence. Workshop participants will work through some of the mathematical tasks for themselves, consider the theory and research results that guided the creation of the tasks, watch video of students working on these tasks, and discuss possible implications for both instruction and instructional design in this and other areas.

    The second session will focus on the role of the instructor in supporting students’ reinvention activity. We will address issues of developing critical reasoning and argumentation, fostering students’ ownership of their mathematical activity and its products, and bridging the gap between students’ emerging formal reasoning and their ability to express these ideas in verbal and written mathematical language. We will conclude with an investigation of the nature of students’ intuitive limit concepts prior to the reinvention activity and the implications for instruction in introductory calculus courses.
  • Math Circles Demonstration 
    Aimed at MathFest attendees, led by James Tanton 
    Session 1: Saturday, 9:30 - 10:20 a.m., Hall of Ideas E
    For local High School Students; observed by attendees, led by Joshua Zucker 
    Session 2: Saturday, 10:30 - 11:20 a.m., Hall of Ideas E

    • James Tanton, St. Mark's Institute of Mathematics; Tatiana Shubin, San Jose State University; and Sam Vandervelde, St Lawrence University

    A math circle is broadly defined as a semi-formal, sustained enrichment experience that brings mathematics professionals in direct contact with pre-college students and/or their teachers. Circles foster passion and excitement for deep mathematics. 
    These two demonstration sessions, each directed by an experienced Math Circle leader, offer the opportunity for MATHFEST 2012 attendees to observe and take part in Math Circle experiences, and enjoy the thrill the organic and creative process the conversational style of learning Circles offer. The first is directed towards professional mathematicians as participants, the second towards student as participants. Both are for all to witness.
    These sessions are supported by SIGMAA for Math Circles for Students and Teachers (SIGMAA MCST). Seeing a circle in action, we believe, is the best way to generate enthusiasm to start one of your own. Come see why!


  • Math Wrangle
    Saturday, August 4, 2:30–3:30 p.m., Ballrooms M&N


    “Math Wrangle” will pit teams of math club students from Wisconsin high schools against each other, the clock, and a slate of great math problems. This debate-style contest challenges students' problem solving skills, explanations, debating skills, and their strategies. Get ready to wrangle! The MAA’s Special Interest Group on Math Circles for Students and Teachers (SIGMAA MCST) is sponsoring this demonstration Math Wrangle. The intention of SIGMAA MCST hosting the demonstration Math Wrangle is to show how teachers, schools, circles, clubs, and honoraries can get students started in in this exciting combination of mathematical problem solving, public speaking, strategy and rebuttal. Join us for this fun-to-watch mathematical activity.

  • Great Talks for a General Audience: Coached Presentations by Graduate Students
    Saturday, August 4, 1:00 - 5:30 p.m., Meeting Rooms K&L

    • Jim Freeman, Cornell College
    • Rachel Schwell, Central Connecticut State University
    • Committee on Graduate Students and the Young Mathematicians Network

    Presenters in this session must be graduate students. While many graduate students will be asked to give a lecture to a general audience, which includes undergraduates and non-mathematicians, as part of a job interview, most students do not have experience talking to a non-research audience. This session gives graduate students the opportunity to give a 20-minute talk aimed at an undergraduate audience that has been exposed to calculus and some linear algebra. Both the talks and abstracts should be designed to excite a wide range of undergraduates about mathematics. All participants in this session will receive private feedback on their presentations from an established faculty member and an undergraduate student. Time permitting, a discussion of effective techniques for delivering great general-audience talks will occur at the end of the session. Contact Jim Freeman ( or Rachel Schwell ( for help on writing an abstract and preparing a talk for a general audience. Graduate student participants in this session should also attend the graduate student workshop (What’s the Story?) on mathematical presentations. Information on travel support will be available at /students/grad.html on March 1, 2012. Abstracts must be submitted by April 30, 2012.

  • Exclusive Screening of the New Film: “Flatland2: Sphereland” 
    Thursday, August 2, 7:30 -– 9:00 p.m., Ballroom A

    Flatland2: SpherelandJoin writer/director Dano Johnson, producer Seth Caplan, and mathematical advisor Thomas Banchoff for this sneak peek into the mathematics of making the new animated film featuring the voices of Kristen Bell, Michael York and Danica McKellar. More information and trailer of the film can be found at

    Abstract: The goal of the presentation is to demonstrate the power of combining mathematics and imagination. We will demonstrate how we pushed our imaginations by working with math educators to apply mathematical theory and design into all aspects of the film. We will not only show the entire movie, but also present our process for writing the script, animating the characters and working with the actors to reinforce important mathematical concepts. The presentation will also demonstrate how we all interact with math in our daily lives by presenting worlds that exist in different dimensions. We will introduce audiences to captivating concepts like how technology from radios to refrigerators to rocket ships would exist in a world with just two dimensions. We will also go beyond our own world to give audiences a glimpse of what life might be like in the fourth dimension. Through these fascinating concepts, audiences will understand the importance of classical 2-D and 3-D geometry, and gain a deeper appreciation of spatial geometry in the three-dimensional universe we call home.


In the Footsteps of Newton follows the inspirational journey of a group of Hanover College math majors as they go on a quest to learn about Isaac Newton in a History of Math class. The students follow in Newton's footsteps, from his early life on the farm at Woolsthorpe Manor, to his student days in Grantham and academic life in Cambridge, to his final years in London. Producer and writer Nancy Rodgers will be available to answer questions about making a student documentary at historic sites. A limited supply of free DVDs will be distributed for campus screenings. For more information and trailer: