Final Project: What is Mathematics?

Goal: To reflect more broadly about the course themes as we tie the segments together, you will select one of the following:
  1. Research how the mathematics from our class relates to a topic you are interested in


  2. You can design a creative review of what we covered in class
You must participate in the final project to pass the class and you will communicate your expertise in a poster presentation session and learn from your classmates during our assigned time at finals

  • You may work alone or with 1 other person. See the project rubrics for full details on the required components. The project rubrics have many common elements, but there are some differences that depend on which type of project you select.
  • The research/reflection guide can help you get started on the items you'll need for the rubric.
  • You will communicate your expertise in a presentation session on the "final exam" day. Your entire project, including any references, will be taped up to the wall. We will divide up the class into two research sessions. During your session, you must stand by your product to present your project to classmates and answer their questions. The presentation component typically involves a group of 1 or 2 students at a time listening to and looking at your project so they can take notes for peer review. During the other session, you will talk to others about their projects and fill out peer review. If you work with someone else, you will each be in different research sessions.

    1. research how the mathematics from our class relates to a topic you are interested in Your research may take the form of topics in the book that we did not cover, further examination of something we did, or something else related to algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics. I am happy to give you some suggestions of topics related to your personal interests. We have spent time in the statistics segment showing diverse perspectives as well as critically analyzing information. In this light it might seem difficult to make progress in understanding a topic or issue. However, to flip this perspective, we will conclude the semester by examining some of the amazing mathematical breakthroughs that have already occurred and how they have helped humanity. Here are two sample research products:
    Mathematics and Film by Kaitlyn Colucci (I especially liked the visual presentation and the deep connections to geometry. The connections to statistics and probability could have been even more in depth and replaced some of the timeframe elements that are not as mathematical)
    Mathematics and Cancer by Maggie Hooks and Syd Shadrick (I especially liked how much research they brought in and how they organized it, including identifying which segments it connected to. The 2009 research should have also said it connected to statistics)
    These were created in Microsoft Word and Google Slides, respectively.
    I am happy to help in office hours and you can also make an appointment through the library Research Advisory Program (RAP)


    2. design a creative review of what we covered in class Some past students who selected this option reported that they have found it helpful to think of this project as a review of class content as if they were studying for a comprehensive final exam [without the exam component - instead the product is the project]. There are many forms this choice of project can take. I encourage you to be creative! Here are some portions of a variety of different projects, just to give you an idea.
    Part of A Class Review (one theme at a time) by Erin Durham
    Part of A Class Review (one segment at a time) by Jack Maddocks
    Connection to general education goals
    This project connects in a variety of ways to the four general education goals for all students at ASU:
  • Thinking Critically & Creatively [creative product]
  • Communicating Effectively [writing, speaking and reflecting]
  • Making Local to Global Connections [how mathematics applies in many other settings, multiple perspectives]
  • Understanding Responsibilities of Community Membership [citations, peer review, actively listening to each other's perspectives and presentations...]

    More ideas for 1. research how the mathematics from our class relates to a topic you are interested in

    You could focus your project on a mathematical concept, a real-life concept with mathematical connections, a person, place, or more. There are many possibilities and I am happy to help you find a topic that you are interested in and also has connections to mathematicians and mathematics. Here are a variety of topics to give you an idea of some diverse possibilities.
  • technical applications: cancer, film, roller coasters, sports, your future career, real-world problems being solved by mathematicians...
  • mathematical/scientific object: black holes, pi, golden mean
  • person: David Blackwell's mathematical career and collaborations
  • place: Egypt, the universe
  • time period: World War II Mathematics
  • controversy in mathematics
  • many more possibilities---hopefully you will choose something interesting/useful/important to you as you select a topic that has enough scientific/mathematical connections and mathematicians. I can help you broaden, narrow, or refocus a topic.

    Library Databases: The library database CQ Researcher presents a chronology for select topics and questions. Library databases such as Jstor or Academic Search Premier can also be helpful for mathematical searches.

    Books: Catalog searches on a topic or the history of a field, or books from the library or my office can provide a wealth of information.
    Also take a look at:
  • Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures. Dordrecht; Boston : Kluwer Academic, 1997.
  • Encyclopedia of mathematics and society / Sarah J. Greenwald , Jill E. Thomley, [editors] Ipswich, Mass. : Salem Press, 2012.
    Search the library catalog for online access and this is also on the main stacks in the library too. The link worked from home once I entered my banner id, but otherwise search in the library catalog and go in from there...
  • Websites: Websites such as the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive (O'Connor and Robertson, 2005) provide an extensive collection of articles on particular people and topics. The Earliest Known Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics (Miller, J, 2008) can provide history on the development as well as the first published appearance of terms. Wikipedia's history pages and Google scholar can also be useful.