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Math Models

Rise and Run: Algebraic Portrayals of Contemporary Issues

Popular music isn't a place you'd expect to hear a demand for mathematics education. But when rapper Mos Def penned his song on the racial inequalities of urban life, he filled it with data and titled it: Mathematics. He wrote, You wanna know how to rhyme, you better learn how to add. Rhyming--identifying the problems and aspirations of life and expressing them so that people take notice--somehow requires facility with numbers.

As part of a first year university algebra class, the students featured in this website have used mathematics to highlight issues that are important in their own lives. They've gone far beyond the standard approach to college algebra of looking the answer up in the back of the book. For their class projects, many students find data on their issue through internet research. Some create algebraic models describing their topic. Others take part in service learning activities off campus. In this case, students identify data that helps them understand the significance of their community work. More about teaching with math models »

Student Projects

By Valerie Klingberg | Valerie's class project was a series of poems that portray the lives of children affected by war. In this poem, she graphed her prediction of Kenya's refugee population. The line becomes the boundary for her free verse.
By Marisa Policicchio | Marisa wanted to highlight a country's development successes for her math modeling assignment. She used the Datafinder iPad app to collect data about Brazil's progress towards the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.

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