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Underground Mathematics Engages Students in Real-World Problem Solving

Groundwater contamination may seem to have little in common with “applied” math courses that try but fail to engage students with the real world.

Charles Hadlock, however, has tackled both of these problems, presenting steps toward their solution in an illuminating paper—titled “Underground Mathematics”—that appears in the November issue of The College Mathematics Journal.

In a self-contained introduction to groundwater modeling, Hadlock describes a conceptual model of the underground environment, notes the utility of proportionality principles, and outlines exercises involving authentic questions about the local estimation of contour and flow lines and the extent of groundwater contamination.

Hadlock talks up the suitability of the underground environment for introducing students to applied mathematical thinking.

“It has the . . . advantage that many current environmental challenges are associated with the risk of groundwater contamination and the remediation of locations where it has occurred,” he writes. “Students are naturally interested.”

This special issue of The College Mathematics Journal is available free of charge via ingentaconnect. Paper copies can be purchased in the MAA Store.

About the November College Mathematics Journal

Printed in full color, the November issue of The College Mathematics Journal collects papers that tie into the international Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 initiative. Topics include factors affecting forest carbon uptake and the use of seismic waves to determine the composition of the earth’s core. The issue also features a guest editorial by Mary Lou Zeeman, co-director of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and a commentary by Ben Fusaro of the SIGMAA on Environmental Mathematics. Order your copy today!

News Date: 
Monday, November 11, 2013