The MAA has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to begin production of a new online magazine on the history of mathematics and its use in teaching. It will be called Convergence: An Online Magazine Where Mathematics, History, and Teaching Interact. The magazine will be part of the MAA's Mathematical Sciences Digital Library (MathDL) and will complement the existing Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications (JOMA). The target audience is teachers of grades 9-14 mathematics, be they secondary teachers, two- or four-year college teachers, or college teachers preparing secondary teachers. (“Grade 9-14 mathematics” encompasses algebra, synthetic and analytic geometry, trigonometry, probability and statistics, elementary functions, calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations.) The editors of the magazine will be Victor J. Katz, from the University of the District of Columbia, and Frank Swetz, from Penn State University, Harrisburg.
The editors hope that this will be an exciting magazine for the whole mathematics community. The targeted launch date is April 15, 2004.
What will appear in Convergence? Here are some of the things we hope to include:
- Expository articles dealing with the history of various topics in mathematics curriculum. These will usually contain interactive components and color graphics, to take advantage of the capabilities of the Web. Articles will frequently be designed to appeal to multiple audiences, with hyperlinks offering more than one path through the material. In addition, we will create a discussion group for each article where readers can share suggestions as to how the material can be used in the classroom and point out strong points and possible pitfalls; authors would also have a chance to respond.
- Translations of original sources. These will generally be accompanied by commentary from experts showing the context of the works. If possible, interactive components will be used to help with the understanding of these materials. The goal of the translations will be to show teachers how ideas were developed in various cultures and how knowledge of this development is useful to teaching the same ideas to today's students.
- Reviews of current and past books, articles, and teaching aids on the history of mathematics of use to teachers, as well as reviews of websites providing information on the history of mathematics.
- Lesson plans. These will be short, fairly complete pieces designed to use history in the teaching of a topic. They will be set up so they can be used immediately by practicing teachers at various levels. Occasionally these will be linked to the topic of an expository article.
- Historical problems. These problems will appear in a section entitled “Problem of the Day,” with new problems appearing daily. After publication, the problems will be archived in sections based on the main topic of the problem, such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, or calculus.
- What Happened Today in History? Each day, there will be a listing of two to four “mathematical events” that happened on that date in history. Many of the items in this section will have links to other websites, so teachers can find out more about the particular person or event.
- Quotation of the day. A new and interesting quotation about mathematics from a historical figure will appear in this section each day.
- An up-to-date guide to what is happening around the world in the history of mathematics and its use in teaching. The magazine will report on past meetings and give notice of future meetings.
- Historical illustrations. Portraits of mathematicians or title pages of old books make wonderful illustrations to liven up a discussion or to post in the classroom.
The editors are actively looking for material and also for referees for this material. Please send ideas for articles, completed manuscripts, or any other items to Victor Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org