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# Summer Enrichment

Through the World-Wide Web, the Geometry Center distributes information to anyone who wants it. But the Geometry Center also runs hands-on, in-house, summer enrichment programs in which we target certain populations. This past summer our target populations were 6-8th grade females and underrepresented minorities, talented undergraduates, and high-school math teachers.

The 4-week summer program for 6-8 graders was a joint venture with the Office of Special Projects in the University of Minnesota School of Mathematics. The program was the culmination of a year-long effort to provide exciting and enriching mathematics to students who are in the process of making decisions about whether (or how much) mathematics will play a part in their future. The curriculum for the summer course was developed by postdocs at the Geometry Center and in the School of Mathematics, and featured units on planar isometries, symmetry groups, and the Platonic and Archimedean solids. The last two weeks of the summer institute focused on geometry and visualization, and made extensive use of the Geometry Center. The students met at the Geometry Center to use the Center's facilities and Center-produced software. As a closing group project of the solids unit, the students constructed what we believe to be the world's largest paper model of the MAA symbol---a six-foot high icosahedron.

### Figure 2: The summer enrichment class poses with their creation: an icosahedron of staggering proportions!

This construction was motivated by a FOCUS article (February, 1994) that showed a group of elementary school students who had built the world's largest rhombicosidodecahedron. In that polyhedron, each side had a length of 13 inches. Rather than try to better that record, we chose to construct an icosahedron of roughly the same size; this resulted in our icosahedron having edges that measure 37 inches. The event attracted the attention of the local television stations and newspapers who not only covered the event but also interviewed the beaming students. Weeks later, the icosahedron was prominently displayed at the MAA booth at Mathfest, the joint summer meeting of the MAA and the AMS. We hope to encourage more students to explore symmetry and solid geometry by building models; a teacher's guide to creating a large icosahedron as a class project is available on-line from the Geometry Center's WWW server.

A much longer and more intensive summer program is the Geometry Center's research experience for undergraduates. We invite 20 undergraduates to spend 10 weeks at the Geometry Center conducting research in topics chosen from mathematics, computer science, and math education. They work under the supervision of their ``coach'' Tony Phillips from SUNY Stony Brook, and collaborate on projects with Center postdocs, University math professors, and representatives from industry. This year many of the students presented their results at a poster session during Mathfest, and several will also be traveling to an upcoming AMS meeting to present their work. The students tackled difficult problems in celestial mechanics, dynamical systems, Riemannian manifolds, and mathematical biology. The products of their labors include software and videos to illustrate the problems and solutions. One student, who began teaching high school mathematics this fall, even produced a computer-animated video designed to introduce high school students and teachers to non-Euclidean geometry! She completed this sophisticated video in just 10 weeks (thanks to the support of the Geometry Center staff) and the result was so impressive that a publisher wants to market her video.

## Teaching the Teachers

In addition to our summer program for undergraduates, the Geometry Center also annually runs an intensive two-week residential summer course for high school teachers of mathematics. The programs introduce new mathematics to the teachers and encourages them teachers to develop activities suitable to use in their classrooms. This year the program on probability and statistics was called CHANCE and analyzed current events as reported in newspapers and journals. For example, the teachers discussed and debated applications of statistics to DNA fingerprinting and questioned whether vitamin supplements have any significant impact on health. The course participants learned that seemingly significant events (such as winning and losing streaks in sports) may actually be the natural outcomes of random events. Information about the CHANCE project, including a complete set of handouts from the summer course is available from the Geometry Center's WWW server.

Next: Conclusions

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Up: Of Museums and Icosahedra
Prev: Mathematics on the Internet