During the academic year, the Geometry Center hosts a variety of courses in mathematics and computer science. These classes meet at the Geometry Center and use the Center's computer resources. Furthermore Center staff and postdocs often provide technical and mathematical expertise related to the courses, and in some cases postdocs develop curriculum and/or teach the courses.

The courses that meet at the Center are primarily lab-based. This means that a substantial portion of the students' learning is assisted by the use of technology to explore and discover mathematical ideas. A typical class consists of some time spent in a classroom setting discussing key ideas, with the remainder of the time spent in a computer lab. The students use the lab time to work on instructional modules designed to reinforce the key concepts, while they simultaneously learn the symbolic, numerical, and graphical methods that they will need in order to understand applications of those ideas. Thus students not only leave the course with knowledge of mathematics, but also they gain an arsenal of technological tools and some insight into when each tool is appropriate to use.

These technical tools include standard mathematical software such as Maple, Matlab, and Geometer's Sketchpad, as well as a host of public domain programs, many of which were created at the Geometry Center. An important component of the Center's mission is the development and dissemination of mathematical software to the scientific community. Our software is distributed free of charge to anyone with an internet connection. More information about the Geometry Center and software that we have developed is available from the Geometry Center home page on the World Wide Web.

During the past year, four courses from the University of Minnesota met regularly at the Geometry Center. The subject areas were diverse: computer graphics, dynamical systems, multivariable calculus, and a course for future and current high-school math teachers. A fifth course in geometry met occasionally at the Center. In all cases, it was clear that the value of holding the class at the Geometry Center was the expertise and experience that the Center has in using technology to visualize mathematical concepts.

We do not have the space to discuss all of these courses, so we will focus on a course which directly relates to engineering education: multivariable calculus.

Author: Frederick J. Wicklin <fjw@geom.umn.edu>

Comments to:
webmaster@geom.umn.edu

Created: Fri Aug 18 1995 ---
Last modified: Jul 21 1996

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