I have nearly 30 years experience in the teaching of mathematics and the teaching of the teaching of mathematics. Some of my favorite teaching moments have centered on the use of, or focus upon, problems to teach with or from. Every summer for nearly 15 years I would teach the Problem Solving course at Fresno Pacific University with Jim Wilson, Dave Youngs, Richard Thiessen, and others. Every year we would plan by saying to each other, “So what have you been working on that interests you lately? Bring that to the course.” Our basic premise was that those learning would find something that intrigued them in what we found intriguing. This also ensured that for at least part of the summer each one of us would be doing something that made us happy.
Presently, I have an office on the second floor of the AIMS Center, and one of the walls that is painted with dry-erase coating has been given to me to pose problems for the whole staff to work on. It has been a great source of camaraderie and a small amount of competition. Each week I have posed a new problem, and each week a winner is announced. I have been calling it “The Rockstar Challenge” because the winner gets a large red rock to display on their desk for a week as the award.
I would like to extend the opportunity to all of you to join in the fun, so each week I will be adding this challenge to our Outreach page at www.aimsedu.org [coming soon]. I would love it if you would send in your responses to any problems you find intriguing enough to spend some time on. They will range across all the disciplines we focus on at the Center and a few we don’t. If you don’t like one week’s problem, stay tuned… next week’s might just really grab you.
One problem though, I cannot send the winner the rock, so I have changed the name for non-resident contestants to “The Green Wall Challenge!” A suitable electronic certificate will be awarded to each week’s winner, along with a coupon good for some download(s) from the AIMS store.
The problems will range across the fields of study within mathematics, spatial reasoning, sciences, and puzzles.
We will provide instructions on how to submit responses on the actual web page, (they will be collected via an online form). Keep watching for this, it will be similar to the Puzzle Corner that has some nice puzzles from the past. I will be curating this collection a little bit more in the future as well, trying to keep it fresh.