In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.
I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).
This student submission again comes from my former student Tinashe Meki. His topic, from Geometry: deriving the term midpoint.
How has this topic appeared in pop culture (movies, TV, current music, video games, etc.)?
During political elections, we usually hear how candidates are projected to do as the election moves forward. An important marker that usually separates likely candidates to win is the midpoint. Different new channels and news castor tend to use the phrase “midpoint of the election…”, or “midway through the election…” as ways to signify a halfway marker in time or events. The use of midpoint in news is used to describe halfway mark of time, events, distance etc. It’s a flexible word which gives its viewers a marker of how they can predict future events, time or distance. The uses of midpoint is inherently powerful because it simplifies and organizes ideas for views. For example, during time election there are so many stories being reported, different polls and various interpretation of how candidates are doing. Once the midpoint of the elections is reached, news anchors and new outlets provide the viewers with a consensus on how the election is going. That information is better received by the viewers because they can organize all the information they have received and create the own opinions for the second half of the election.
How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic? What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or the development of this topic?
This topic allows the teacher to simultaneously teach students about mathematical history and provide an engaging activity. I think the best way introduce students to the definition of a midpoint would be to have the students find the midpoint themselves, describe what they have found in their own words then provide them with a formal definition. A way to do that would be to show students how to bisect a line using Euclidian tool (ruler and compass) as the ruler, then have the students name the point where the line is bisected. Ask students to describe that point in their own words about the line. This activity would allow the instructor to introduce students to Euclidean geometry. The cool thing about using Euclidean geometry is that it allows students to visualize geometric concepts. It would provide them concrete understating of geometric topics.
How have different cultures throughout time used this topic in their society?
An interesting approach to define midpoint would be to use origami geometry. Much like Euclid constructions, Origami offers similar constructions and definitions for geometry terms. Origami is Japanese art form that has been around since 200.AD. “Modern mathematicians Humiaki Huzita and Koshiro Hatori devised a complete set of axioms to describe origami geometry — the Huzita–Hatori axioms.” Among these axioms, one of them defines and constructs a proof for the midpoint. Having students construct the midpoint using Huzita and Hatori would be an interesting way to not only introduce the definition of midpoint, but also provide a different approach of explaining geometric concepts.