# Engaging Students through Projects

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### Transcript of Engaging Students through Projects

David M. BressoudMacalester College, St. Paul, MNProject NExT-WI, October 6, 2006

Do something that is new to you in every course.

Do something that is new to you in every course.Try to avoid doing everything new in any course.

Do something that is new to you in every course.Try to avoid doing everything new in any course.What you grade is what counts for your students.

Do something that is new to you in every course.Try to avoid doing everything new in any course.What you grade is what counts for your students.Reading mathematics, working through complex problems, communicating mathematics, using terminology correctly, constructing proofs, going back over material that has not been understood

Do something that is new to you in every course.Try to avoid doing everything new in any course.What you grade is what counts for your students.Reading mathematics, working through complex problems, communicating mathematics, using terminology correctly, constructing proofs, going back over material that has not been understood

Do something that is new to you in every course.Try to avoid doing everything new in any course.What you grade is what counts for your students.Reading mathematics, working through complex problems, communicating mathematics, using terminology correctly, constructing proofs, going back over material that has not been understood

What you grade is what counts for your students. Homework 20% Reading Reactions 5% 3 Projects 10% each 2 mid-terms + final, 15% eachIf you hold students to high standards and give them ample opportunity to show what theyve learned, then you can safely ignore cries about grade inflation.

MATH 136 DISCRETE MATHEMATICSAn introduction to the basic techniques and methods used in combinatorial problem-solving. Includes basic counting principles, induction, logic, recurrence relations, and graph theory. Every semester.

Required for a major or minor in Mathematics and in Computer Science.I teach it as a project-driven course in combinatorics & number theory. Taught to 74 students, 3 sections, in 200405. More than 1 in 6 Macalester students take this course.

Let us teach guessing MAA video, George Plya, 1965Points:Difference between wild and educated guessesImportance of testing guessesRole of simpler problemsIllustration of how instructive it can be to discover that you have made an incorrect guess

Let us teach guessing MAA video, George Plya, 1965Points:Difference between wild and educated guessesImportance of testing guessesRole of simpler problemsIllustration of how instructive it can be to discover that you have made an incorrect guessPreparation:Some familiarity with proof by inductionReview of binomial coefficients

Problem: How many regions are formed by 5 planes in space?Start with wild guesses: 10, 25, 32,

Problem: How many regions are formed by 5 planes in space?Start with wild guesses: 10, 25, 32,

Simpler problem:0 planes: 1 region1 plane: 2 regions2 planes: 4 regions3 planes: 8 regions4 planes: ???Problem: How many regions are formed by 5 planes in space?Start with wild guesses: 10, 25, 32,

Problem: How many regions are formed by 5 planes in space?Simpler problem:0 planes: 1 region1 plane: 2 regions2 planes: 4 regions3 planes: 8 regions4 planes: ???Start with wild guesses: 10, 25, 32, Educated guess for 4 planes: 16 regions

TEST YOUR GUESSWork with simpler problem: regions formed by lines on a plane:0 lines: 1 region1 line: 2 regions2 lines: 4 regions3 lines: ???

TEST YOUR GUESSWork with simpler problem: regions formed by lines on a plane:0 lines: 1 region1 line: 2 regions2 lines: 4 regions3 lines: ???1234567

START WITH SIMPLEST CASEUSE INDUCTIVE REASONING TO BUILD

nSpace cut by n planesPlane cut by n linesLine cut by n points01111222244338744556

START WITH SIMPLEST CASEUSE INDUCTIVE REASONING TO BUILDTest your guess

nSpace cut by n planesPlane cut by n linesLine cut by n points0111122224433874411556

START WITH SIMPLEST CASEUSE INDUCTIVE REASONING TO BUILDTest your guess

nSpace cut by n planesPlane cut by n linesLine cut by n points011112222443387441511556

GUESS A FORMULA

npoints on a linelines on a planeplanes in space0111122223443478451115561626672242

GUESS A FORMULA

npoints on a linelines on a planeplanes in space0111122223443478451115561626672242

01234560100000011100000212100003133100041464100515101051061615201561

GUESS A FORMULAn k1-dimensional hyperplanes in k-dimensional space cut it into:

GUESS A FORMULANow prove it!n k1-dimensional hyperplanes in k-dimensional space cut it into:

GUESS A FORMULANow prove it!n k1-dimensional hyperplanes in k-dimensional space cut it into:

Stamp Problem: What is the largest postage amount that cannot be made using an unlimited supply of 5 stamps and 8 stamps?

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Stamp Problem: What is the largest postage amount that cannot be made using an unlimited supply of 5 stamps and 8 stamps?

4 and 9? 4 and 6?

a and b?

How many perfect shuffles are needed to return a deck to its original order?In-shuffles versus out-shufflesIn-shuffles in a deck of 2n cards is the order of 2 modulo 2n+1. Out-shuffles is the order of 2 modulo 2n-1.

Tips on group work:I assign who is in each group, and I mix up the membership of the groups.No more than 4 to a group, then split into writing teams of 2 each. Have at least one project in which each person submits their own report.Each team decides how to split up the grade.

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