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Minicourses at MAA MathFest are offered separately from other mathematical sessions and at an additional fee. Advance registration is required to attend, with a list of offered courses available for selection through the registration portal.

MAA Minicourses are partially supported by the William F. Lucas Fund. Read more about Prof. Lucas here.

1. Initiating, Designing, Building, and Using Modeling Scenarios for Teaching Differential Equations

Part A: Thursday, August 2, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Part B: Friday, August 3, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.


This minicourse offers experienced guidance and hundreds of rich sources for initiating, designing, and building materials for teaching differential equations using mathematical models from a wide variety of cognate disciplines. We offer this minicourse in support of colleagues who wish to create teaching materials for teaching differential equations though modeling. The leadership team of accomplished authors will discuss how they prepare and produce modeling scenarios and then help participants focus on projects of their own creation. We will share many sources for constructing teaching materials, point to immediate possibilities available to participants, and help them gain confidence in their ability to compose their own modeling scenarios. Through active, hands-on, small group work participating faculty will experience using modeling to teach differential equations from day one as but one example of the kind of material they can produce.

Brian Winkel, SIMIODE
Eric Sullivan, Carroll College
Lisa Driskell, Colorado Mesa University
Audrey Malagon, Virginia Wesleyan University

Sponsor: Systemic Initiative for Modeling Investigations and Opportunities with Differential Equations (SIMIODE)

2. Introduction to Inquiry-Based Learning

Part A: Thursday, August 2, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Part B: Saturday, August 4, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.


This minicourse will be a hands-on introduction to inquiry-based learning. Inquiry-based learning is a pedagogical approach that strongly emphasizes active learning and sense-making. During the minicourse, the facilitators and participants will model some typical IBL classroom modes as teachers and students and then reflect on and analyze these experiences. Discussion will include finding and using existing resources that support inquiry-based teaching and a variety of manners in which participants can use them to integrate some IBL practices into their classrooms. The minicourse is intended for new users of inquiry-based learning and for faculty who are interested in becoming new users. By the end, the participants will be familiar with resources and facilitation methods for using inquiry-based learning in the classroom.

Brian P Katz, Augustana College
Victor Piercey, Ferris State University
Eric Kahn, Bloomsburg University
Candice Price, University of San Diego
Xiao Xiao, Utica College
Theron J Hitchman, University of Northern Iowa
Alison Marr, Southwestern University

Sponsor: The SIGMAA for Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL SIGMAA)

3. An Introduction to WeBWorK: An Open Source Alternative for Generating and Delivering Online Homework Problems

Part A: Friday, August 3, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Part B: Saturday, August 4, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.


This minicourse equips participants to successfully utilize the opensource online homework system WeBWorK. Developed by mathematicians for mathematicians and adopted by over 1200 institutions, WeBWorK is a popular open-source alternative to commercial products. WeBWorK comes with an extensive and curated library of over 35,000 exercises encompassing the collegiate curriculum including College Algebra, Calculus, ODEs, Linear Algebra, Prob and Stats, and Introduction to Proofs. WeBWorK recognizes a multitude of mathematical objects and allows for elegant solution checking. This minicourse will provide participants with the knowledge and skills needed to utilize WeBWorK in their classrooms and to edit WeBWorK exercises.

John Travis, Mississippi College
Robin Cruz, College of Idaho
Tim Flowers, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Sponsor: MAA Committee on Technology in Mathematics Education (CTiME)

4. Leading a Successful Program Review

Part A: Friday, August 3, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Part B: Saturday, August 4, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Designed primarily for faculty members preparing to lead program reviews in the next year, this mini-course covers the reasons for undertaking a program, how to write the self-study, the role of an external consultant, pitfalls that one might anticipate and how to avoid them. The mini-course will interest to faculty who see leading a program review further out in their future, as well as faculty who are interested in serving as an external consultant. The mini-course will be divided into four sessions organized along the topics above; each session will be a mix of presentations, case studies, and discussion.

Rick Gillman, Valparaiso University
Henry Walker, Grinnell College

Sponsor: MAA Committee on Departmental Reviews

5. Mathematical Card Magic

Part A: Thursday, August 2, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Part B: Saturday, August 4, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.


This minicourse will present a modern survey of self-working mathematical card magic, from classics such as binary and Gilbreath principle based entertainments to original principles and effects discovered by the presenter and previously shared online (over the period 2004-2014) in his bi-monthly Card Colm blog at A special feature will be two-person card magic based on subtle mathematical communication principles. Discrete mathematics, combinatorics and elementary probability will be used. The material can be used to liven up mathematics classes and motivate student learning. There are no prerequisites, and no sleight of hand skills are required.

Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College

6. Visualizing Projective Geometry Through Photographs and Perspective Drawings

Part A: Thursday, August 2, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Part B: Friday, August 3, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.


This Minicourse will introduce hands-on, practical art puzzles that motivate the mathematics of projective geometry---the study of properties invariant under projective transformations, often taught as an upper-level course. This Minicourse seeks to strengthen the link between projective geometry and art. On the art side, we explore activities in perspective drawing or photography. These activities provide a foundation for the mathematical side, where we introduce activities in problem solving and proof suitable for a sophomore-level proofs class. In particular, we use a geometrical analysis of Renaissance art and of photographs taken by students to motivate several important concepts in projective geometry, including Desargues' Theorem, Casey's Theorem and its applications, and Eves' Theorem. No artistic experience is required.

Annalisa Crannell, Franklin & Marshall College
Fumiko Futamura, Southwestern University