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.

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 July 25, 2014 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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