Abstract / Synopsis

The goal of the Creativity in Mathematics and Science project, funded by the National Science Foundation’s [NSF’s] Improving Undergraduate STEM Educa- tion program, is to reconsider how we teach mathematics at the collegiate level. Over the last three years, we have developed interdisciplinary modules that seek to encourage students, including non-STEM majors, to see mathematics in unexpected places, make connections to their own interests and disciplines, and explore creativity in mathematics. Relying on traits of creativity such as the ability to connect ideas, be inquisitive, question norms, and have flexibility [1], we encouraged students to participate and understand mathematics in unconventional ways. The scheduling of a professional juggling company’s performance at our on-campus theater inspired us to create a module connecting mathematics and juggling for both a general education mathematics course and a mechanics course. We drew from research on the mathematics of juggling [2, 3] to develop a module that encouraged students to explore the patterns, notations, and mathematical elements of juggling in a variety of ways. Their final projects, representing further explorations, were displayed in our theater’s lobby and featured interactive displays and demonstrations. In this paper we describe our experiences developing and implementing this juggling module, students’ experiences with the modules, and their development of final projects.



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