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Combining Strands of Many Colors: Episodes from Medieval Islam for the Mathematics Classroom - More Ideas for Activities and Projects

Randy K. Schwartz (Schoolcraft College)

Download the three modules discussed in this article:
Combinations and Their Sums (Elementary Statistics, Finite Mathematics)
Binomial Coefficients and Subsets (Finite Mathematics)
Using the Derivative to Solve an Optimization Problem (Calculus for Business and Social Sciences)

Besides the topics addressed in these modules, other topics from Islamic mathematics that can be adapted for classroom activities or student projects include:

The practical needs of Islam, reflected in the above list, were among the reasons that the spread of this faith stimulated mathematical work in the Middle Ages. More fundamental was the impact of its central doctrine of al-tawhīd, variously translated as “unification” or “unity in multiplicity.” This doctrine encouraged a sweeping embrace of all knowledge and all people as the best way to know God (Schwartz 2001). In a multicultural society such as ours, the outlook of unity in multiplicity has great relevance to education. The work described in this article shows that in a classroom consciously based on global diversity, students not only learn more mathematics, they learn how every culture has important contributions to make to the unified stock of human knowledge.