Fall 2012

Kathleen Harness will lead a discussion on "Time vs. Difficulty: A Graphic Display of Programming Problems for Young Children."


AJ is a visualization programmer from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Their Advanced Visualization Laboratory's mission is to allow scientists to explore their data, and to communicate science to the public. Working in close collaboration with domain scientists, AVL creates high-resolution, cinematic, data-driven scientific visualizations. Recent film releases featuring their work include IMAX: Hubble 3D" and Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life".


"Is Algebra Necessary?", the title of a piece by Andrew Hacker (an Emeritus Professor at Queens University) in a recent issue of the Sunday New York Times is the topic this Friday. It came to my attention because Hacker briefly quotes me in the piece. Hacker argues that the algebra requirement for all high school students is misguided. Hacker's view is hardly new, but it raised quite a bit of traffic in the blogosphere.


Our mathematical understanding of biology from the physiological to ecosystem level has taken off in the last 30 years. Ecologists currently use this knowledge simply to describe natural systems and explain observations, but can we go a step further? Can we utilize our mathematical understanding of nature to design or engineer a better ecosystem? What would we want this better system to do for us and what would it look like? Can we actually optimize the system for these desired traits?


Ray Price will be speaking to us about Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (iFoundry). Ray will describe iFoundry as a curriculum incubator and will explore the activities (both successes and failures).  He will discuss the current areas of emphasis and the potential future opportunities. 


The history of the universe tells us a lot about the properties of the stuff that it contains.  Of particular interest are the dark matter and dark energy, which together comprise 96% of the total energy.  I will describe the experimental and theoretical work in Physics and Astronomy, and at NCSA that hope to illuminate these dark" topics."


The advent of ubiquitous quality mobile computing tablets gives hope for a real transformative role using technology in education reform. A vision for a re-imagined curriculum, with mobile tablets playing an integral role, will be presented and discussed. With this motivation, a short demonstration of iPad programming will be presented intended to inspire a community of developers to implement meaningful reform using these recently deployed technologies.


This week we will have Lauren Smith from Champaign Unit 4 Schools presenting. Her talk is titled "Making A Difference ' One Student at a Time" and it will cover the One to One mentoring program. 


In many parts of the United States and the world, there exists large scale innumeracy.  From interviewing students placed into developmental skills classes at New York area community colleges, student misconceptions in solving fraction and decimal problems were identified.  A much larger group of approximately 500 students were then asked to solve each computational item and also choose strategies they believed were correct.  Item Response Theory (IRT) based on logistic modeling allowed for the sample-free calibration of the psychometric characteristics of the items.


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