Friday, August 08, 2008

HPM 2008 Day 3

Karen Parshall held the opening lecture of the third day of the HPM 2008. Her talk was on “The Evolution of a Community of Mathematical Researchers in North America 1636-1950”. For me, particularly interesting was the fact that North America for quite some time remained “loyal” to the English way of doing thing, which made them, for a time, slow to pick up on the progress in continental Europe. (My Master thesis concerned the 1600s and early 1700s, so it’s particularly interesting for me.)

Then recent Felix Klein award winner Ubiratan d’Ambrosio held a talk with the long title “The transmission and acquisition of Mathematics in Colonial and Early Independent Countries in the Americas, and a brief Reference to the 20th century.” Who else than Ubi has the knowledge to give a one-hour talk on the mathematics of a whole continent over a period of 500 years? It is always a pleasure to hear Ubi talk, and I hope I will get many more chances in conferences in years to come.

Jodelle Magner had a talk on “Napier’s Rods In Today’s Classrooms” which showed one way of working with different multiplication algorithms. Then Peter Ransom had a talk on sundials – decided on at short notice to fill the gap left by people who didn’t come to the conference. It is always nice to hear Peter talk – even though this was (of course) closely resembling what he did at ICME the week before.

David Pengelley and Janet Heine Barnett’s workshop had the title “Learning Discrete Mathematics and Computer Science via Primary Historical Sources: Student projects for the classroom.” It consisted of two sets of worksheets, which the participants worked on: one on the bridges of Koenigsberg, another on Pascal’s triangle (according to Pascal). This was quite interesting.

Ewa Lakoma talked on “On the role of the history of mathematics in mathematics education for the knowledge-based society”. She only mentioned in passing a survey that has been done in Poland, showing how history of mathematics is perceived in different groups, and I would like to know more about this aspect of her talk.

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