The emphasis throughout this course is the development of the ability to think creatively – to solve mathematical exercises that must be stated as a mathematical model (the creative thinking aspect) and then solved using techniques encountered during a student’s secondary educational experience in mathematics in the courses known as algebra, plane geometry, trigonometry and elementary functions. An inspiration for this offering reflects the ability of computers and calculators to carry out many of the mathematical techniques needed to obtain a solution to a mathematical model – it is the modeling aspect that is now the stumbling block to solving mathematically posed problems and it has always been the more difficult aspect to address when solutions to problems (especially “word” problems) are requested. This course is embedded in the realm of precalculus mathematics and each student’s enthusiastic participation during class discussions is essential. Additionally, as with all FSEMs, exercises in writing will be included. Evaluation of performance in the class will be primarily based upon solutions to assigned problems; these problems will be solved individually, in small groups, and in large groups. A background in calculus is not expected.Students who successfully complete this seminar will satisfy one half of the Natural Sciences & Mathematics area of inquiry requirement.
Allen Strand is a professor of mathematics. He specializes in the areas of finite difference equations and problem solving. The problems introduced by Professor Strand are a representation of the many he has developed for this course.