Hands on History: A Resource for Teaching Math, Amy Shell-Gellasch Editor, 2007, 177pp, $53.95 list price, $42.95 member price, paperbound , ISBN 978-0-88385-182-1 , Catalog Code NTE72 , MAA, P.O. Box 91112 , Washington DC, 20090-1112. /ecomtpro/timssnet/common/tnt_frontpage.cfm
This resource fills a noticeable void in the supplemental material available to the mathematics instructor. The editor points out that although the huge resources of the Internet provide a vast virtual world for exploration, that touching and holding and measuring should still be a significant part of every student’s education.
The articles include puzzles like the Tower of Hanoi, tiling to discover Pythagoras’ theorem, string models of conic sections, tools to construct mechanical curves, instruments for surveying both land and space, clocks of both the sundial and pendulum variety, completing actual squares and cubes to illustrate the parallel algebraic operations, and a blueprint/article for building and using a brachistochrone (a curve of quickest descent), which intrigues this Calculus teacher. A great picture of students and teachers exploring a working model of a brachistochrone may be found on the cover of the Fall 2002 issue of The Mathematical Intelligencer, and the March/April 1999 issue of Quantum has an excellent supplemental article to the curve’s history, including its relationship to the pendulum clock.
If even a few of these apparati were available to be played with, or simply displayed in cases for the curious, the mathematics educations of our charges would be enhanced. Nice work putting together this resource.
Other relevant and related materials, for the reader whose curiosity has been piqued by this book, are
Don Crossfield, Mathematics Teacher, Roseburg H.S. , Roseburg, OR