Liaison Newsletter – Nov 2008

In this issue:

Technically Speaking Resource Available Now

We are pleased to announce the launch of Technically Speaking, a website featuring a series of video vignettes aimed at helping students improve their oral communication skills. Much of the work is based on Joseph Gallian's article, “Advice on Giving a Good PowerPoint Presentation” (Math Horizons Volume 13, April 2006). Developed with the generous support from an NSF Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) grant (#0632804), this resource is freely available to help instructors and students to prepare for classroom presentations, senior capstones, regional meetings, etc. The guide will also be available in January 2009 as a free DVD. We encourage you and your students to use Technically Speaking as you prepare for the Joint Math Meetings and other upcoming events.

HOM SIGMAA Writing Contest

The MAA Special Interest Group on the History of Mathematics is pleased to announce its sixth annual Student Writing Contest. This contest, designed to increase awareness and interest in the history of mathematics is open to all undergraduate students.

Deadline for submissions is March 31, 2009. Information and submission guidelines can be found on the HOM SIGMAA website via MAA Online or by contacting Amy Shell-Gellasch at

JMM 2009 Undergraduate Student Poster Session Judges Needed

The MAA Undergraduate Student Poster Session started very modestly at the 1990 Joint Math Meetings with fewer than 15 student projects. From this start, it has grown to encompass more than 120 projects, with more and more entries submitted every year. You can learn more about the Poster Session at

We now need more than 150 judges for this event! If you or some of your colleagues are planning to attend the 2009 Joint Meetings and are willing to help, please register.

The Strategic Planning Working Group on Sections Needs Your Help!

The MAA's Strategic Planning Working Group on Sections (SPWGS) is investigating the role of sections in the MAA and the relationship between sections and the parent organization. As a result of this study, we intend to propose ways in which the Association can help sections make their meetings and other activities more attractive to more MAA members and other mathematicians. Towards this end, we are interested in talking with MAA members who usually attend national meetings but who have not attended a section meeting in recent years.

We request that you recommend department members who meet these criteria. Recommended mathematicians who register for the 2009 Joint Mathematics Meetings will be invited to participate in focus groups on ideas to make the section meetings more interesting to more people.

Please send names and email addresses by December 1 to Nancy Hagelgans (, chair of the Working Group, with a copy to Susan Kennedy ( in the MAA's Washington office.

Math Club and Student Chapter Advisors: We want to steal your ideas!

We hope you and your colleagues will join us for an MAA Special Presentation at the Joint Meetings called “Math Club in a Box” on Thursday, January 8, 2009, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

If you could put one idea or activity in a box and ship it out to math club advisors everywhere, what would it be? A game? A plan for a field trip? A math puzzle? We are seeking field-tested resources from faculty MAA members to assist student chapter advisors and others who want to engage students in mathematics-related activities. Please come and share your ideas with others at the math club special presentation.

Send proposals by November 22 to either Kay Somers ( or Betty Mayfield (

November 14 Reservation Deadline for JMM Housing

We hope that you plan to attend the 2009 Joint Math Meetings (and the MAA Department Liaisons Meeting at 9:30 on Monday morning, January 5, at the Marriot Marshall Ballrooms South/West).

Please note that you must register and reserve housing by November 14 in order to obtain hotel accommodations through the Mathematics Meetings Service Bureau (MMSB). Special rates have been negotiated exclusively for this meeting for certain hotels. Reservations must be made through the MMSB to receive these rates. Additional information is available at the official JMM website.

Great Papers, Anyone?

Have you read “Zaphod Beeblebrox's Brain and the Fifty-ninth Row of Pascal's Triangle,” by Andrew Granville? This paper appeared in the American Mathematical Monthly in 1992 [vol. 99, 318-331] and was awarded the MAA's Merten Hasse award in 1995.

The MAA Journal Writing Awards site contains pdf copies of the articles that have won MAA journal writing awards over the years together with short biographical sketches of the authors. The Awards site is just one of the many mathematical treasures you can find through the MAA website.

(By the way, Andrew Granville will be delivering the next Distinguished Lecture at the MAA Carriage House on November 14. Following the lecture, look for audio and video posts through the MAA website.)