Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Math goes viral in the classroom

Date:
December 14, 2009
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
At least a dozen Alberta high-school calculus classrooms were exposed to the West Nile virus recently. Luckily, it wasn't literally the illness. Educators used the virus as a theoretical tool when they designed materials for use in an advanced high-school math course.

At least a dozen Alberta high-school calculus classrooms were exposed to the West Nile virus recently.

Related Articles


Luckily, however, it wasn't literally the illness. University of Alberta education professor Stephen Norris and mathematics professor Gerda de Vries used the virus as a theoretical tool when they designed materials for use in an advanced high-school math course. The materials allow students to use mathematical concepts learned in their curriculum to determine the disease's reproductive number, which determines the likelihood of a disease spreading.

The approach is a marriage of science and math, subjects the researchers say seem to exist in separate worlds at a secondary-school level, but that when brought together can effectively bring real-world scenarios into the classroom to enhance learning and understanding.

Not to mention answering that ages old high-school student question: "why do I need to know this?"

"This piece was designed to satisfy an optional unit in Math 31 (Calculus), for which there are no materials, so we said, 'let's fill the gap,'" said Norris. "These materials show a real application of mathematics in the biology curriculum for high-school students."

Norris and de Vries chose a published academic math paper on the transmission of the West Nile virus and modified it -keeping the science intact, but making it readable and practical for high-school calculus students.

The information and equations in the original paper dealing with disease transmission were then used as the basis for calculus math problems to be solved by the students. Students were presented with a variety of materials that covered topics and concepts such as rate of change, exponential growth-decay models, and models for the carriers of the virus, including mosquitoes and infectious and susceptible birds. The students' mathematical skills were then put to use in determining the spread of the disease using various parameters, which included variables such as biting rate and the probability of infection.

Norris underlines that the project challenged the students to see and understand science in a different fashion from what they learn inside the science curricula. He points out that high-school classroom scientific experiments are "proven" science and have been around for at least 300 years, in many cases. For the students to discover that real scientists often work with some assumptions that they know to be false in order to reach their conclusions was certainly an eye-opening realization for them, he says.

"There's no way out of the fact that the knowledge you gain from science is imperfect; it's tentative and subject to change," said Norris. "I think that's what struck the students between the eyes."

Both researchers agree that this form of collaborative, interdisciplinary learning can take place across all subject areas. De Vries and Norris are currently working on another project that focuses on population genetics that will fit into Grade 12 biology and math courses.

"It's mathematics in the real world. Kids are always asking, 'why am I learning this,'" she said. "All of a sudden the mathematics that kids have learned comes together in a project like this."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Math goes viral in the classroom." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214101842.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2009, December 14). Math goes viral in the classroom. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214101842.htm
University of Alberta. "Math goes viral in the classroom." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214101842.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins