Chapter News
The Newsletter for Advisors of Student Chapters
of the Mathematical Association of America
Spring 2002
/students/chapter_news/ChapterNewsApril02.htm
Be There In Burlington for MathFest 2002
The scenic splendor of Burlington, Vermont, will provide the backdrop
for MathFest 2002. The summer gathering of the MAA will take place August
13 on the campus of the University of Vermont. Activities of interest
to students will begin with the MAA/Pi Mu Epsilon Student Reception on
Wednesday, July 31^{st}. The MAA student paper sessions, student
workshop, and student lecture will follow over the course of the next three
days. See pages 3 and 4 for more information on these and other activities
for students.
San Diego:
Sun and Balmy Breezes for the Joint Winter Meetings
The Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego (January 69) took place
under perfect conditions. Temperatures ranged from the 60's in the mornings
to low 80's in the afternoons, with sun and soft breezes to complement
them. Activities for students at the meetings included an undergraduate
student reception, the MAA Student Lecture, and the Minority Student Initiative.
As always, the Student Hospitality Center provided students with a place
to relax, meet others, and talk. See the San Diego Summary on page 2 for
details.
What's inside?
San Diego Summary:
Undergrad Student Reception 2
Student Hospitality Center 2
Minority Student Initiative 2
MAA Student Lecture 3
Whassup in Burlington:
Student Paper Sessions 3
MAA Student Lecture 4
MAA Student Workshop 4
Other Student Activities 4
Contact Information 7
San Diego Summary
Undergraduate Student Reception
On Sunday, January 6, a reception for undergraduate students was held
from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Student Hospitality Center. Fresh fruit
and pastries were served to approximately 150 students and their advisors.
Dick Jarvinen, chair of the Committee on Student Activities and Chapters
welcomed the students along with Doug Faires and Robert Smith of Pi Mu
Epsilon. The reception afforded the students a chance to congregate and
meet with each other in an informal setting. Student receptions have been
traditionally held at the summer meeting. The Committee on Student Activities
and Chapters determined that this type of engagement is important and should
be a part of the winter meetings was well. The turnout of students and
advisors indicate that the reception was a great success.
Student Hospitality Center
The Student Hospitality Center in San Diego was located adjacent to
the registration area for the joint winter meetings and was visited more
than a thousand times. Undergraduate students found places to leave their
belongings temporarily, free refreshments of fruit punch and bitesize
treats, ongoing mathematics videos, copies of Math Horizons, and handouts
pointing out activities of interest to them at the conference. The Student
Hospitality Center also served as the venue for the annual Pi Mu Epsilon
and MAA Student Chapter Advisors' Breakfast. The Student Hospitality Center
has become an important part of the national meetings and is sponsored
by the MAA Committee on Student Activities and Chapters. Undergraduate
and graduate students, faculty, and advisors, as well as their guests,
are welcome. Tables and chairs allow a place for meetinggoers to relax,
meet, talk, and work on talks. Dr. Richard Neal and his wife, Araceli,
are in charge of the Student Hospitality Center. For information about
the Student Hospitality Center call Dr. Neal at 18002291725.
Minority Student Initiative
The Minority Student Initiative brought 52 students from ten different
institutions to the joint winter meetings. This program of the Committee
on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters seeks to encourage the
mathematical pursuits of students from traditionally underrepresented groups
by providing small travel grants to the students through a faculty sponsor/advisor.
In San Diego the Minority Student Initiative also brought all 52 of the
students together for a spaghetti dinner. The Committee on Undergraduate
Student Activities and Chapters has rechristened this program as the Outreach
Initiative for Underrepresented Students. This program runs once a year,
either at the joint winter meetings or at the MathFest. Persons interested
in information about future editions of the Outreach Initiative for Underrepresented
Students should contact Jean Bee Chan at jbchan1@attglobal.net.
MAA Student Lecture
Approximately 60 students and faculty attended the MAA Student Lecture
on the evening of January 8^{th}. Professor M. Elisabeth Pate?Cornell
spoke about Finding and Fixing Systems' Weaknesses: the Art and Science
of Engineering Risk Analysis. Professor Pate?Cornell is the Burt and Deedee
McMurtry Professor of Engineering and Chair of the Department of Engineering
at Stanford University. She described her own experiences in working on
two significant risk analysis problems. One of these involved her work
in analyzing patterns of failure in the tiles which cover the space shuttle
in order to help NASA limit the risk of tiles being lost during the shuttle's
reentry into the earth's atmosphere. The other example was from her work
in studying behavior of anesthesiologists and the contribution of this
behavior to patient risk while under anesthesia. These examples were presented
in a witty, anecdotal style that was both entertaining and very informative.
This MAA Student Lecture provided students with a good understanding of
the nature of the field of engineering risk analysis.
Whassup in Burlington
MAA Student Paper Sessions:
Call for Student Papers
The MAA Student Paper Sessions will be held on Thursday, August 2, and
Friday, August 3, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Students who wish to present a paper in the MAA Student Paper sessions
at the Burlington MathFest must be nominated by a faculty advisor who is
familiar with the work to be presented. To propose a paper for presentation,
the student must complete a form and obtain the signature of a faculty
sponsor.
Nomination forms for the MAA Student Paper Sessions are located on MAA
Online at www.maa.org under STUDENTS
or can be obtained from Dr. Thomas Kelly (tkelley@hfcc.net)
at Henry Ford Community College or by phone at (313) 8456492. Students
who make presentations at the MathFest and who are also members of MAA
Student Chapters are eligible for partial travel reimbursement. The deadline
for receipt of applications is June 28, 2002.
MAA Student Lecture
On Saturday, August 3, Colin Adams of Williams College will give the
MAA Student Lecture on "Blown Away: What Knot to Do When Sailing" By Sir
Randolph "Skipper" Bacon III. This is a tale of adventure on the high seas
involving great risk to the taleteller, and how an understanding of the
mathematical theory of knots saved his bacon.
MAA Student Workshop Topics in Graph Theory
Graph theory is a subject that offers obvious applications and beautiful
open questions, all within a context that allows beginners to get up to
speed quickly. The workshop presented by Patti Frazer Lock of St. Lawrence
University will explore some of the more interesting applications and open
questions in graph theory today. This workshop should be interesting and
understandable to all, from those who have never seen any graph theory
to those with a solid background in the subject. The MAA Student Workshop
is scheduled for Saturday, August 3, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Other Activities of Interest to Students at MathFest
2002

The Student Hospitality Center will be open Thursday through Saturday,
9:00 a.m.  5:00 p.m. Students and other MathFest participants can meet
for informal conversation, refreshment, and mathematical diversions. The
Student Hospitality Center also provides programs for the student paper
sessions, packets for student presenters, and information on MathFest activities
of interest to students. Special information for students can be found
on MAA Online at www.maa.org and at www.pmemath.org.

MAA/Pi Mu Epsilon Student Reception: Wednesday, July 31, 5:30 
6:30 p.m.

MAA Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) Winners; Ben Fusaro,
Florida State University, Thursday, August 1, 5:30  6:30 p.m.

Graduate Student Reception; Thursday, August 1, 5:30  6:30 p.m.

PME Banquet; Friday, August 2, 6:00  7:45 p.m. See the MathFest
registration form for ticket information.

PME J. Sutherland Frame Lecture: Soap Bubbles: Open Problems;
Frank
Morgan, Williams College, Friday, August 2, 8:00  8:50 p.m.
Baltimore Bulletin
Mathematical Experiences Outside the Classroom
Although the third edition of this session scheduled for the San Diego
meeting this past January had to be cancelled, the MAA Committee on Undergraduate
Student Activities and Chapters plans to offer this session at the 2003
Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore. Many people expressed disappointment
at the cancellation, as interesting ways of drawing students into mathematics
are of great interest. Below are a few samples of past presentations in
this session. For further information contact Tom Kelley at tkelley@hfcc.net
and watch for the "official" announcement of the session in a future edition
of Focus.
Some Sample Presentations From Past Sessions on Mathematical Experiences
Outside the Classroom
Speaker:
Aaron K. Trautwein
Carthage College
akt@carthage.edu
Sine on the Dotted Line:
The Carthage College Journal of Undergraduate Mathematics
The students and faculty at Carthage College created their own undergraduate
mathematical journal, "Sine on the Dotted Line," seven years ago. Since
that time, eight issues have been published. This presentation gives the
history of the journal, how the journal has effected changes and additions
to the Mathematics Department curriculum, and the process by which each
issue is published. In addition, examples of articles appearing in the
journal will be given. The talk will conclude with a description of how
the journal has enhanced mathematics learning outside the classroom at
Carthage and an examination of some of the success and problems we have
encountered.
Speaker:
Tracii Friedman
Benedictine University
(tfriedman@ben.edu)
Building a Successful Math Club
Three years ago, there were very few mathematics majors at my institution.
Thus, a primary goal of departmental strategic planning was identified:
increase the number of majors. The strategy included revitalizing
the math club and generating student research projects. In order
to have a strong, energetic program, it seemed essential to engage students
outside of the classroom environment, providing them with a view of mathematics
that is more than formulas, theorems, and numbercrunching. In three
years, the math club has become an exciting and motivating component of
the mathematics department. We have also achieved much success with
student research projects and have included student presentations of these
projects as a regular math club activity. Generally, the math club sponsors
several annual events that include mathematics competitions, outside speakers,
and social events. There are biweekly and monthly events, such as the Math
Club Challenge, a problem posted in the student newspaper. These
events become familiar to the students and help to maintain momentum throughout
the year. Also, each year, the officers of the club aim to devise
at least one new, fun, and of course mathrelated event that helps to renew
student interest in the club's activities.
Speaker:
Paul Fishback
Nurturing a Community of Students at a Large University
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Grand Valley State University
(GVSU) offers many opportunities for our students to become involved in
mathematical activities beyond the classroom. The Mathematics and Statistics
Club/Student MAA Chapter activities over the past few years have included
inviting career speakers, establishing problem solving groups, assisting
the department in its interviewing of job applicants, advising the department
on issues of student concern, hosting social activities, and organizing
the Michigan Undergraduate Mathematics Conference. In addition to the club,
the department actively promotes collaborative research between students
and faculty. Some of these projects have focused on research problems in
pure mathematics and have led to a recent NSFREU grant. Others address
problems in statistical consulting for a variety of clients in the region.
These types of activities have done much to "fertilize" an undergraduate
mathematics community within our department, a community that flourishes
despite the large size of our institution (over 17,000 students). Important
factors that make the creation of such an environment possible include
the institutional commitment to teaching excellence, service, and scholarship
as well as significant contributions made by a large number of motivated
faculty.
Proposed by:
Paul Fishback, Grand Valley State University (fishbacp@gvsu.edu)
Jody Sorensen, Grand Valley State University (sorensej@gvsu.edu)
Speaker:
James Yick
The Scarecrow Conjecture Activity
In the original movie version of The Wizard of Oz, when the wizard gives
the scarecrow a diploma, a "Doctorate in Thinkology" or Th.D, to show the
effect of his newly acquired degree, the scarecrow rattles off something
that sounds somewhat like the Pythagorean Theorem but is not. He states,
"The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an iscoceles triangle
is equal to the square root of the remaining side." We will call this the
Scarecrow Conjecture. For a disproof by counterexample, take an equilateral
triangle with all sides of length 1. Since sqrt[1] + sqrt[1] does not equal
sqrt[1], the conjecture is false.
The Crow Theorem: The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an
isosceles triangle is not equal to the square root of the remaining side.
Proof by Contradiction: Consider any isosceles triangle with sides of
lengths a, a, and b with 2a>b>0. Assume that the sum of the square roots
of two sides of the triangle equals the square root of the remaining side.
We consider two cases:
Case (i): sqrt[b] = sqrt[a] + sqrt[a]
Sqrt[b] = 2sqrt[a]
b = 4a>2a>b
b>b is false.
Case(ii): sqrt[a] = sqrt[a] + sqrt[b]
0 = sqt[b]
0 = b, a contradiction.
This experience can include a discussion about the symbolic nature of
the scarecrow as representing uneducated farmers and why the scarecrow's
conjecture may have been deliberately false.
Proposed by:
James Yick, President and Ana Rafiee, VicePresident of the Euclidean
Society (MAA Student Chapter of MAA at ASU)
lanjaie@hotmail.com
and stu06621@aug.edu
Contact Information
How to Reach the MAA
For Membership Information, Subscriptions, and Publications orders
contact:
The MAA Service Center
P.O. Box 9112
Washington, DC 200901622
8003311622 or (301) 6179415
(301) 2069789FAX
For the MAA Headquarters:
The Mathematical Association of America
1529 Eighteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 200361385
8007419415 or (202) 3875200
(202) 2652384FAX
To Contact the
Chapter News Editor
Suggestions, concerns, and/or contributions of articles for this
newsletter may be sent to:
James P. Marshall
Illinois College
Department of Mathematics
1101 W. College Ave.
Jacksonville, IL 62650
(217) 2453432
FAX: (217) 2453034
jmarshal@hilltop.ic.edu
May the MATH be with you!