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Rachel Levy: Mathematical Modeling from Kindergarten to Industry

Submitted by Tony I Garcia on November 7, 2019 - 4:00pm
RachelLevy

The Department of Applied Mathematics is pleased to host this series of colloquium lectures, funded in part by a generous gift from the Boeing Company. This series will bring to campus prominent applied mathematicians from around the world.


Speaker: Rachel Levy

Date: November 7th, 2019, 4pm

Location: (SMI 205)

Title: Mathematical Modeling from Kindergarten to Industry

Abstract: Mathematical Modeling is taking off at all levels of mathematics education, because of its connections to data science and careers, the creativity inspired by problems with multiple solutions, and new connections in the K-12 curriculum.  Programs like MAA PIC Math are preparing university faculty to engage their students in industrial problems.  Modeling competitions such as the Mathworks Mega Math Challenge (M3 by SIAM) and Mathematical/Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (MCM/ICM by COMAP) are inspiring students internationally to engage in recreational mathematics that they report to be inspiring and fun.

In my research, I have explored whether students as young as Kindergarten can engage in mathematical modeling in ways that resonate with the ways my undergraduates at Harvey Mudd College engaged in industry-based problems.  Here modeling means going beyond courses where models are presented as finished products to be used in clearly defined ways (such as a mass-spring-damper system in a typical differential equations course) to projects more like the mathematical modeling competitions that ask a big messy important question and leave it to the modelers to develop and justify a useful solution.

In this talk I’ll share with you some surprising insights from elementary school mathematical modelers and discuss how observing their teachers improved my own practice as a mathematical modeling educator and researcher.

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