Math Dept. gets $4M
The National Science Foundation awarded Dartmouth's mathematics department a $4 million, five-year grant as part of a $12 million national effort to try to improve undergraduate education.
The grant is designed to "promote broad and significant improvements in undergraduate education that can lead to increased student appreciation of and ability to use mathematics," according to a press release.
Math Department Chair Kenneth Bogart said the grant will be used to develop new courses and new material for existing courses.
"The emphasis is on connections between mathematics and other areas of study, ranging from music to physics," Bogart said. "And some of the materials will be developed from professors outside of the mathematics department."
"For example, the people teaching Math 3 are working with people outside the department to develop exploratory projects for Math 3 that are based on applications of calculus rather than exploratory projects based only on exploring math ideas," Bogart said.
Math Professor Dorothy Wallace is currently working to develop courses that explore relationships between math and various subjects in the humanities.
Two years ago, Wallace spoke with her Dartmouth colleagues about teaching a class with an artist that would combine textile design with a branch of abstract algebra called group theory, according to a press release.
"In the class, students would create something beautiful, then analyze their creations, learning by doing," she said.
Bogart said the College plans to involve faculty, undergraduate and graduate students in developing new course material with the grant money.
He said two years ago, the NSF announced its program aimed at getting educational institutions to integrate mathinto other disciplines.
Wallace then asked Dartmouth professors to indicate how they wanted to contribute to the project.
"The faculty seem raring to go," Wallace said. "Now we'll have to see how the students like it."
Bogart said he thought the NSF liked the College's proposal because the materials developed at Dartmouth would be useful to a number of other schools and because the College could serve as a good national model for interdisciplinary subjects, Bogart said.
Bogart also said the College's science departments are working on a joint math-chemistry-physics class sequence for students who place into advanced science classes and are interested in majoring in chemistry, engineering, physics or applied math.