seeking ideas for a new course

seeking ideas for a new course

by Jay Yellen -
Number of replies: 1

I’m hoping to get suggestions/ideas for the design of a course that I will be teaching next fall for incoming first-year students, which will not count toward the school’s general education requirements or toward the major or minor in mathematics. The audience will be students interested in a wide variety of majors, i.e., English, Economics, History, Music, Biology, Art – and maybe a few interested in mathematics and/or computer science.

I pretty much have free rein over the course content. My goal is to convince students that mathematics is not just about manipulating numbers and formulas, but that it’s mainly about critical and logical thinking and problem solving, and that it can be fun and beautiful (I’m calling the course Strength and Beauty in Mathematics). I’m leaning toward a fairly heavy overlap with various topics in discrete mathematics, a course I’m currently teaching that’s required for both mathematics and computer science majors (I use more than 100 WebWorK problems in the course). But I want it to be suitable for students planning to pursue majors that have little or nothing to do with mathematics.

One of the textbooks I’m considering is “Problem Solving Through Recreational Mathematics,” by Bonnie Averbach and Orin Chein, published by Dover Books, but I’m wide open to and would very much appreciate other suggestions. It would be terrific if someone was teaching a similar course and would be willing to share course material with me.

Thanks in advance.

--Jay Yellen

In reply to Jay Yellen

Re: seeking ideas for a new course

by Douglas Young -
Please forgive me for asking, but why would students take such a course? It sounds like it would be fun, but my experience is that students are reluctant to take something just for the fun of it.

That said, a few other ideas:
1) introduction to logic and/or symbolic logic using the Sherlock Holmes stories, particularly "The Mystery of Silver Blaze"
2) introduction to using latex, with bibtex. I really like latex/bibtex's ability to keep track of references. Students might find it useful as well
3) intro to programming using python.

Hope this helps

Douglas Young