Mathematics Awareness Week 1996

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University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas

University of Kansas

We love math! We want to share our love for math with others: students, teachers, colleagues, neighbors and friends. How do we do it? How do we make others aware of the beauty and usefulness of math? We follow the examples of others. If musicians want to make us aware of their music, they invite us to a concert and play for us. They choose holiday times so we can associate music with those holidays or those holidays with music. We chose Math Awareness Week, April 21-27, as "the Holiday" to "play" math for the Lawrence, Kansas community. We played and celebrated the glory of mathematics throughout the whole week.

We started on Monday with the Honors Banquet to award all our outstanding math students, instructors who are the best calculus teachers, and successful researchers. On Tuesday, we invited local K-12 teachers to the Math Awareness Week Symposium with the following program:

4:00 pm Welcome and Opening Remarks
        Bozenna Pasik-Duncan and Charles Himmelberg

4:05 pm Mathematical Connections:  Fred Van Vleck

        Decisions About the Future of Math Education:  Jack Porter

        (Chaired by Tyrone Duncan)

5:15 pm Panel Discussion:
        Math Awareness in the Lawrence Community

        Partnership between the KU Mathematics Department and Lawrence K-12
        Math Teachers

        Panelists (tentative):  Paul Corcoran (Deerfield Elementary), Nancy                     
        Kinnersley (KU-Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), Jeff Lang             
        (KU Math), Judy Randolph (Lawrence High), Kathy Wagner (West Junior 
        High), Ann Barbee and Kenna Frankenfeld (Sunset Hill Elementary), Peter                                                           
        Zimmer (KU Math)

5:45 pm Closing Remarks
        Bozenna Pasik-Duncan and Charles Himmelberg

        Reception (406 Snow)
Panel discussion made us aware that we need to continue having an open door between the Math Department and teachers on a regular basis and we made the committment to do so. On Wednesday, we enjoyed having the 5th graders from the Lawrence Sunset Hill Elementary School for the workshop, beautifully prepared by some faculty members and mostly by our undergraduate and graduate students. The program of the workshop was the following:
8:30 am          Arrival

8:35 am          Welcome, Prof. Charles Himmelberg, Chair, Department of    
                            Mathematics and Prof. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan

8:40-9:50 am     Walking with a Calculator, Prof. Jack Porter and
                 Marian Hukle

                 Random Walk, Prof. Tyrone Duncan and Peter Zimmer

                 The Binomial and the Poisson:  An Introduction to
                 Probability Distributions,  Nathan Welch

9:50-10:10 am    Cookies and Magic, Tracy Atteberry

10:10-11:00 am   Educational Activities and Computer Presentation and     
                 Activities, Profs. Tyrone Duncan and Bozenna
                 Pasik-Duncan.  Zhisheng Chen, Jonathan Flentgen,Ai-Jun Gao, 
                 Shane Haas, Ming Hu, Van  Jones, Dora Matache,Xianguo Wang,                      
                 Nathan Welch, Austin Yuen, Peter Zimmer. Tracy Atteberry and               
                 Stephen Pendleton        

11:00-11:30 am   The Magic of Superconductivity, Shane Haas

11:30-12:00 pm   Tinkering with Tiles, Stephanie Childs
The KU faculty and students were surprised at how much the children already knew about math and how quickly they could use their math knowledge. The elementary school students enjoyed the hands-on learning experience and were excited about receiving more interactive learning.

On Thursday, we organized the Applied Math Day with a poster presenting our faculty and students' recent work on Applied Math. We had a big crowd of students and faculty. The program of that afternoon was the following:

3:00 pm Applied Mathematics Poster Session and Discussion
        This is an informal gathering for students with an interest in
        applied mathematics.
        Hosted by the applied mathematicians:  Ralph Byers, Ben Cobb, 
        Jim Church, Tyrone Duncan, Martin Hanna, Kun He, Weizhang Huang,
        Ying-Cheng Lai, Ben Leimkuhler, David Lerner, Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, and
        Fred Van Vleck

3:30 pm Reception for Les Robertson
Minnie McDaniel and Leslie P. Robertson are KU graduates and former faculty members who have a very generous Math Department endowment fund. Mrs. Robertson received B.A. (1934) and M.A. (1937) degrees in mathematics from KU and taught in the department from 1941 to 1948. Mr. Robertson received a B.S. degree from Southwest State in Springfield, MO, and an M.S.Ed. (1942) from KU. He was Supervisor of Communications Subjects in KU's Oread Training School from 1940-48. In 1948 the Robertsons moved to Medford, OR, where Mr. Robertson became head of business education for Medford High School. He subsequently established the Medford School of Business. The Robertsons are now retired and living in Medford.
4:30 pm Ellis B. Stouffer Colloquium
        Algorithms for Molecular Dynamics
        Eric Barth, Courant Institute, NYU

Finally, on Friday, we organized faculty dialogue:

3:00 pm Math Awareness Dialogue (a panel discussion and participant
        dialogue on math awareness at KU):

        Implications for More Interactions Between  the Math Department and
        Other Departments

        How can we be more effective showing students mathematical
        connections to other scientific disciplines?

        Panelists :  Mohammed El-Hodiri (Economics), Joe Heppert (chemistry),
        Barbara Anthony-Twarog (Physics), George Pinches (Business),
        John Charnes (Business), David Lerner (Mathematics), Ben Leimkuhler
        (Mathematics), Tyrone Duncan (Mathematics), Ben Cobb (Statistics), Nancy
        Kinnersley (EE and Computer Science), Norman Slade (Biology)

4:00 pm Reception (406 Snow)
and we met with Faculty from other departments. The room was overcrowded and the discussion about the future interaction of the Math Department with other departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business and the School of Engineering was challenging. We decided very enthusiastically to meet once a month to discuss all kinds of improvements and changes. The reception closed our celebrities of the Math Awareness Week.

You now wonder whether people are more aware of math in Lawrence. The media helped us. TV and the local newspaper did an excellent job. Students and teachers are asking for more math workshops and more discussions and consulting. Personally, I extend Math Awareness Week to every week by going to the local school and teach Algebra and Probability and do "Mathematical Activities" during regular math classes. More and more students enjoy it. More and more students are successful at math.

I call each and every one of you to join me next year to celebrate National Math Awareness Week. The theme will be Math and Internet. A great subject which opens the door to the next century. We can discuss ways to change our teaching using the Internet. I have no doubt that all of us can contribute so much to math awareness. We can make a difference!

For more information contact: Prof. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, University of Kansas, Department of Mathematics, 405 Snow Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045 (913) 864-3651 Fax (913) 864-5255 e-mail:

Mathematics Awareness Month is sponsored each year by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics to recognize the importance of mathematics through written materials and an accompanying poster that highlight mathematical developments and applications in a particular area.