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SIGMAA Activities

SIGMAA on Mathematical and Computational Biology (BIO SIGMAA)

Contributed Paper Session

Mathematics and the Life Sciences: Initiatives, Programs, Curricula

Saturday afternoon, August 4


In the 2015 CUPM Curriculum Guide to Majors in the Mathematical Sciences, the life sciences were clearly identified as a key path through the mathematics major to graduate programs and the workforce. This account echoed many prior high-profile reports (e.g., Bio 2010 (2003), A New Biology for the 21st Century (2009), Vision and Change (2011), The Mathematical Sciences in 2025 (2013), and the SIAM white paper Mathematics: An Enabling Technology for the New Biology (2009)) that had previously discussed the changing landscape at the interface of mathematics and biology and had issued urgent calls for broadening students’ exposure to mathematical methods for the life sciences. It appears that a wider array of curricular ideas, programs, and materials that can be scaled, modified, and assessed in a wide range of different institutions is still needed.

Topics include scholarly contributions addressing initiatives, programs, curricula, and course materials at the interface of mathematics and the life sciences that have been implemented and tested successfully at institutions of higher education. In particular, these may include theoretical or pedagogical frameworks and examples for integrating life sciences research in the mathematics curriculum; theoretical or pedagogical frameworks and examples for integrating mathematical models and approaches in the life sciences curriculum; the design, use, or assessment of teaching and learning materials at the interface of mathematics and the life sciences; the comparison of educational effects for life sciences majors from traditional mathematics courses vs. interdisciplinary variants involving the life sciences; and results from adopting innovative approaches to teaching mathematics material to students majoring in the life sciences. Speakers will be invited to submit their work for consideration in the upcoming PRIMUS Special Issue: “Mathematics and the Life Sciences: Initiatives, Programs, Curricula.”

Tim Comar, Benedictine University
Raina Robeva, Sweet Briar College

SIGMAA on Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL SIGMAA)


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
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

Guest Lecture

Inspire through Inquiry-Based Learning

Angie Hodge, Northern Arizona University

Friday, August 3, 6:00 p.m. – 6:50 p.m.


Inquiry-based learning has been shown to help all students learn mathematics, but IBL has a powerful component that goes beyond the mathematics classroom. IBL can help students with developing thinking skills, making informed life choices, building lifelong relationships, and opening doors to career paths not otherwise considered. In this session, I will engage the audience in a reflective session on how we can all inspire others by using IBL methods of teaching in our classrooms.



Friday, August 3, 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

SIGMAA on Math Circles for Students and Teachers (SIGMAA MCST)

Contributed Paper Session

Great Circles, Great Problems

Thursday afternoon, August 1


Math Circles are outreach programs led by mathematicians for K-12 students or teachers. Math Circles combine significant content with a setting that encourages a sense of discovery and excitement about mathematics through problem solving and interactive exploration. Great problems can often be solved by a variety of approaches working in concert.

During this session, presenters will share mathematical topics and problems, generally from their own Math Circle, that can lead to hours of exploration by the curious. While all topics and problems suitable for or pertaining to Math Circles or similar outreach programs are welcome, we encourage presenters to choose problems specifically with a focus on visual mathematics.

Amanda Matson, Clarke University
Diana White, National Association of Math Circles

Business Meeting

Thursday, August 1, 5:00 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.

Other Mathematical Session

Math Teachers' Circle Demonstration

Saturday, August 4, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.


A Math Teachers' Circle is a professional development experience that brings mathematics professionals in direct contact with teachers. Circles foster passion and excitement for deep mathematics and give teachers a chance to connect with like-minded colleagues. This demonstration session offers the opportunity for conference attendees to observe and then discuss a Math Teachers' Circle experience designed for local teachers. While the teachers are engaged in a mathematical investigation, mathematicians will have a discussion focused on appreciating and better understanding the organic and creative process of learning that circles offer, and on the logistics and dynamics of running an effective circle.

Laura Janssen and Tom Clark, Dordt College

Other Mathematical Session

MATH Rumble

Saturday, August 4, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


The Math Rumble involves teachers in a Mathematical Creativity Contest including mathematical and pedagogical questions. The intention of the Math Rumble demonstration at Math Fest is to share a fun mathematical contest format with those who lead Math Teachers' Circles and similar activities.

Ed Keppelmann, University of Nevada Reno
Phil Yasskin, Texas A&M University
Paul Zeitz, University of San Francisco

SIGMAA on Quantitative Literacy (SIGMAA QL)

Town Hall Meeting

Quantitative Literacy Swap Session

Saturday, August 4, 1:30 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.


In this swap session, participants will have the opportunity to share or borrow course materials related to quantitative literacy. We interpret course materials to include data sets, technology, individual lessons, case studies, entire courses, etc. At the beginning of the session, participants will sign up to give a brief (5 minutes or less) presentation of their resource. Come to share, come to receive, or come for both!

Victor Piercey, Ferris State University
Catherine Crockett, Point Loma Nazarene University
Andrew Miller, Belmont University
Gizem Karaali, Pomona College
Luke Tunstall, Michigan State University

Business Meeting

Thursday, August 2, 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

SIGMAA on Teaching Advanced High School Mathematics (SIGMAA TAHSM)

Contributed Paper Session

Priming the Calculus Pump: Fresh Approaches to Teaching First-Year Calculus

Friday afternoon, August 3


The majority of first-year college calculus students have had a previous encounter with calculus in high school. These new college calculus students start out in Calculus I (or Calculus II) having seen much of the material, but with a weakness or a lack of confidence in some areas. (This previous experience may even be true for students still in high school. It is not unusual for advanced students to take AP Calculus AB one year and AP Calculus BC the next.) As such, this audience creates unique challenges to the instructor. This session seeks to share fresh approaches to engage this audience in first- or second-semester calculus. Such approaches may be curricular -- through a reorganization of the material, for example -- or structural -- such as innovative approaches to placement. This session is in part inspired by and seeks to complement the MAA's NSF-sponsored project on Characteristics of Successful Programs in College Calculus.

Chuck Garner, Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology
Bob Sachs, George Mason University


Meeting the Challenge of Introducing Senior High School Students to Contemporary Mathematics

Friday, August 3, 3:10 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.


The ultimate goal of this workshop is to attract colleagues in the U.S. to collaborate in a research and development study that has been going on in Israel in the past 10 years. This workshop will revolve around the following issues: (i) What is the challenge mentioned in the title and why do we want to meet it? – A group discussion. 15 min. (ii) How might it be possible to meet the challenge? – Introducing a proposed solution consisting of interweaving Mathematics-News Snapshots (abbr. MNSs) in high-school mathematics program. 30 min. (iii) A reverse engineering exercise of a sample MNS will take place to examine the product against the rationale and the guidelines for MNS authors. 15 min. (iv) A discussion of results from a multi-stage study of interweaving 22 MNSs in senior high school classes in Israel in a few different models will be discussed and followed by calling for U.S. colleagues’ collaboration in extending it. This possibly involves two directions: Development of new MNSs on the one hand, and on the other hand implementing the existing MNSs in schools in the U.S. experimentally, as an empirical study. 20- min.

Organizers: Nitsa B. Movshovitz-Hadar and Boaz Silberman, Technion