Final Project

If I have seen further it is only by standing on ye shoulders of giants.
[Isaac Newton in a Letter to Robert Hooke, dated 5 February 1675]

Einstein and Leisureguy's (Michael Han) grandson. Posted March 23, 2007.

Goals and Objectives: You will research a topic related to mathematics that you are interested in. Create an attractive and professional historical timeline that explores the interesting and important breakthroughs - not the entire history. Be sure that the timeline is in your own words and includes important contributions from diverse scientists or mathematicians, as well as interesting pictures, and that the mathematical connections are clear. Approximate dates can be noted as ~1762 or by a range of dates, such as 1700-1800. A maximum of two-pages will be allowed. You may work with at most one other person and the topic must be pre-approved as an ASULearn message to me - topics will be assigned on a first come/first served basis.

Here is a longer sample timeline from another class.

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 mathematics. I encourage you to be creative and find a topic that relates to mathematics that you are interested in. I am happy to give you some suggestions of topics related to your personal interests.

Your final project will be graded based on the depth, clarity, and creativity of the explanations and mathematics in

  1. your abstract (like a commercial or advertisement for your talk) presented orally in 1-2 minutes on our last day of class
  2. your timeline and presentation during the final exam day. Maximum of two pages.
  3. peer and self-evaluations that you will fill out that day
  4. an annotated reference list (to turn in). Use many different types of sources, including scholarly references and library sources, as well as at least one book from the library or my office. Submit a separate annotated bibliography of all of the sources you used in the timeline, with annotations explaining how you used each reference in your timeline, where the pictures are originally from, whether the source is a scholarly reference, and how you obtained the reference (library, web, my office...) Use as many pages as you need for the annotated bibliography.

We will divide up the class into two research sessions. During your session, you must stand by your timeline (which will be taped to the wall) to answer questions (and your answers must demonstrate expertise of your topic). During the other session, you will talk to others about their projects and fill out peer review sheets. If you work on your project with someone else, you will each be in different poster sessions.

Bring your own beverage. If you want to bring something to share, feel free - I will provide some snacks.

References and Topic Suggestions

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 historical information.
More general searches can also result in interesting perspectives, such as:
  • A people's history of science : miners, midwives, and "low mechanicks". Conner, Clifford D., 1941- New York : Nation books, 2005.
    ASU MAIN STACKS Q125 .C58 2005
  • Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures. Dordrecht; Boston : Kluwer Academic, 1997. xxvii, 1117 p. : ill., col. map ; 30 cm.
  • 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.

    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.

    Here are some sample broad topics related to past projects. I suggest you skim through Heart and Mathematics and conduct some web searches to see what peaks your interest. For your topic, you will need to narrow it down...

  • Dyscalculia
  • Fractals and Chaos
  • The History of a Specific Number (Pi, Zero, the Golden Mean, Infinity...), or Culture (Egyptian mathematics, Arabic/Islamic mathematics...).
  • The Mathematical Performance of the United States Compared to other Nations
  • Mathematics and Biology
  • Mathematics: Discovered or Invented
  • Mathematics and Economic Models
  • Mathematics and the Environment
  • Mathematics and Medical Imaging
  • Mathematics and Music
  • Mathematics and Popular Culture
  • Mathematics and Religion
  • Mathematics and Sports
  • Mathematics and Visualization
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards for Teaching School Mathematics
  • Proofs
  • Psychological Aspects of Mathematics
  • Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights
  • Symmetry