Washington College Mathematics Conference

2019 Washington College Mathematics Conference

May 2–4, 2019
Shilo Inn, Ocean Shores
hosted by Centralia College and Bates Tehcnical College

Conference Overview

Thursday, May 2

5:30–7:00 p.m. Department Chair Meeting
7:30–8:30 p.m. Opening Speaker
8:30–9:30 p.m. Announcements

Friday, May 3

7:00–8:50 a.m. Breakfast
9:00–9:50 a.m. Session I
10:00–10:50 a.m. Session II
11:00–11:50 a.m. Session III
12:00–1:15 p.m. Lunch
1:30–2:20 p.m. Session IV
2:30–3:20 p.m. Session V
3:30–4:30 p.m. WAMATYC Meeting
3:30–6:00 p.m. Weatherwax Trail Hike, Bowling
6:00–8:15 p.m. Dinner and Keynote Speaker
8:30 p.m. S’mores by the Shore (hosted by Knewton Learning)

Saturday, May 4

7:00–8:00 a.m. Beach Fun—Math Style!
7:30–9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:30–10:20 a.m. Session VI
10:30–11:20 a.m. Session VII

WAMAP Resources

For electronic access to session handouts and links (and more!), enroll in WAMAP course 14626 (no enrollment key required). If you are not already a WAMAP user, you can create a free student account or request a free instructor account. Alternatively, you can access some of the WAMAP material without logging in by following the links below.

Invited Speakers

Kathryn Leonard

Kathryn LeonardOn Friday evening, Kathryn Leonard from Occidental College will present a talk entitled “Getting your computer into shape: Toward automated understanding of the shape of objects in two and three dimensions.”

Kathryn Leonard’s research interests are in geometric modeling with applications to computer vision and computer graphics. Her work has been recognized with a CAREER award from NSF, the Henry L. Alder Award for Excellence in Teaching from the MAA, and a Service Award from the AWM. She became a math major in her junior year of college, after her petition to waive the university’s math GE requirement was rejected. Currently, she is professor and chair of the newly formed Computer Science department at Occidental College. She has held positions at CSU Channel Islands (where she helped build a university), Caltech, MSRI and Pomona College. She still gets no respect from her cats.

Talk abstract: Shape understanding—looking at a shape and intuitively understanding which parts comprise body, arms, legs, toes and ears—is almost effortless for humans. Training a computer to understand shapes in a similar way presents substantial challenges. This talk will discuss human shape perception and the challenges of automation. We will describe a promising shape model, the Blum medial axis. Using the Blum medial axis, we will propose a method for automatically decomposing a shape into a hierarchy of parts and determining the similarity between those parts. We will end by comparing our automated results to human perception data gathered from a massive user study.

William Asher

William AsherOn Thursday evening, William Asher, senior principal oceanographer at the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory, will present a talk titled “Belay That Nonsense: How to Not Succeed in Oceanography.”

After graduating from Reed College in 1980 with a B.A. in chemistry, William Asher received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering in 1987 from the Oregon Graduate Institute, where he did his doctoral research on air-water gas transfer. He later worked at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim before moving to the University of Washington in 1995. Dr. Asher’s research interests include understanding the small-scale physics and chemistry of air-sea exchange processes, applications of second-order nonlinear optical processes to chemical remote sensing, the use of microwave radiometry in remote sensing of the ocean, chemical thermodynamics of atmospheric organic particulate matter, and fate and transport of pollutants in surface waters.

Talk abstract: The high cost of conducting oceanographic measurements at sea, where charges for ship time can be on order of several tens of thousands of dollars per day , coupled with the limited availability of space for scientists on research ships, mean scientists may only get one chance to take a particular set of measurements. This makes it critical that equipment and instruments used to record data operate without problems. However, field research in oceanography can be frustrating due to the complexities involved with working on a ship, where resources are limited, and mechanical and electronic systems frequently fail due to the harsh conditions. When equipment or instruments fail they must be repaired by whoever is present with whatever is on hand, leading to a relatively high-stress environment. This talk will discuss the design and testing of an instrument that measures vertical profiles of temperature and salinity in the upper meter of the ocean, what went wrong, and how problems were corrected, as a case study in oceanography.


Friday, 9:00–9:50 a.m.

Matteo Tamburini
Thinking Outside the Tank

Chinook B
This article proposes asking students to consider the case of Tokitae, one of the Southern Resident Orcas, who has been in captivity since the 70s. Tokitae is 22 feet long, and lives in a 70-by-80-foot ellipsoidal pool. If she were human, how big would that space be? After a presentation of the historical context, time will be set aside for the assembled faculty to work in small groups and propose a variety of different answers and solution approaches, and possible places to pose this question in the math curriculum. Graphing technology applications for student use will be suggested.

John Mitchell
Mindfulness for Mathematics Leadership

Dolphin C
Mathematicians usually receive little or no formal training in transitioning from the classroom to departmental leadership roles. Mindfulness training can help with the complex and varied challenges of leadership including focus/attention, interpersonal skills, and working skillfully with distractions. Many faculty may be aware of mindfulness as a common component of academic or corporate leadership training, but may be unsure of how to get started. This presentation will give attendees a foundation in mindfulness and a road map for developing their own customized leadership development program.

Yves Nievergelt
Real Applications of the Details of Calculations of Limits

Whale A
In practice, formulae may arise in a form that would entail divisions by zero. Occasionally, IEEE arithmetic magically still delivers the correct final result. Near the singularity, however, rounding errors are dramatically amplified. As a remedy, exactly the same algebraic simplifications used to find limits also lead to algebraically equivalent but more accurate formulae that are not as sensitive to rounding errors. In a different vein, the definition of the concept of limit provides a means to determine a number of iterations that guarantees a specified level of accuracy. Specific examples range from a first basic course in calculus to a first course in multivariable calculus.

Kate Cook
Pre-College Sequence Redesign: Shorten, Split and Rethink the Path

Whale C
Clark College recently converted from a four-quarter pre-college math sequence to two differentiated two-quarter pathways. This entailed developing a new “applied algebra” sequence with: targeted content focused on college readiness; study skills embedded to enhance student success; active learning as a large portion of class time; and teacher training. Learn what we did, why we did it, and how it’s going.

Friday, 10:00–10:50 a.m.

Rajesh Lal
Why Equity? I Thought I Was Already Teaching to Give My Students the Best Chance to Succeed

Chinook B
The presenter’s own struggles to introduce equitable practices in his mathematics classrooms will be used to encourage participants to share their experiences. Why is this an uncomfortable topic to discuss? What is the debate on equity vs. equality? What are the tensions that arise when a particular equitable practice is implemented in an actual classroom?​

Jeff Eldridge
Using WAMAP for Placement: A Roundtable Discussion

Dolphin C
This roundtable discussion will explore the advantages and challenges of designing and implementing a customized math placement assessment delivered via WAMAP, drawing on experiences from colleges who have been using such a test for some time, those with tests currently in development, and those still considering this option.

Steven Bogart
An Introduction to Data Science

Whale A
Data scientist currently tops Glassdoor’s best jobs list. I’ll give an overview of data science, introduce common tools like the R programming language and Tableau visualization software, and lead a discussion of how to incorporate contemporary data science concepts and readings into an introductory statistics class.

William Asher
Simple Equations for a Complex World

Whale C
The University of Washington hosts Math Day every spring at its Seattle campus. The event is designed to show high school students from around the Pacific Northwest how mathematics gets used in science and engineering. The Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is a University Applied Research Center founded by the U.S. Navy during World War 2 with the goal of bringing the knowledge and expertise of the academic community to bear on critical problems faced by U.S. naval forces during the war. Since then, APL has expanded its core mission and is a leader in basic and applied research across multiple disciplines including oceanography. APL participates in Math Day by presenting a seminar by a staff member, typically discussing some aspect of how mathematics is used in their research. The core of this talk is one that was presented at Math Day several years ago, with the goal of showing students how the mathematics they were learning in high school forms the basic tools that scientists use to solve complicated problems. This particular lecture discusses how geometrical reasoning, along with basic algebra and trigonometry, are used to understand how an aircraft-mounted camera was imaging breaking waves inside a hurricane.

Friday, 11:00–11:50 a.m.

Mike Flodin
Using Team Folders to Enhance Collaborative Learning Interaction

Chinook B
When using collaborative learning in the classroom, it is often a challenge to get students interacting with each other thoughtfully about mathematics. Students often tend to work on their own with collaborative in-class learning activities, or cooperate more superficially. Creating a stronger sense of group/team identity in the classroom can help foster better teamwork. I will show how using a team folder with a team logo can help students identify as member of a team, which can in turn lead to better group collaboration and interaction. There will be time for discussion regarding improving in-class math collaboration.

Preston Kiekel and Kurt Schaefer
Credit-Bearing Higher Education Coursework in Prisons

Dolphin C
Teaching in a prison requires a very adaptive frame of mind, and means relinquishing classroom resources many instructors take for granted. However, it is extremely gratifying, and students are extremely dedicated. Professors Kiekel and Schaefer discuss their experiences teaching credit-bearing college-level course work in prison facilities. Courses the instructors have taught in prisons include Algebra, Introduction to Statistics, History, Psychology, and Math in Society.

William T. Webber
The Unforgivable (Algebra) Curses

Whale A
In the world of Harry Potter, imperio, crucio, and avada cadavra are the 3 unforgivable curses. In the world of Mathematics there are a corresponding 3 unforgivable algebra errors that are the curse of many students. I will discuss these 3 unforgivable errors, their prevalence in student work, reasons why they might be so prevalent, what I have done to eradicate them, and how successful I have not been in this eradication effort

Melonie Rasmussen
Guided Pathways: Math Pathways for Students of Color (and Everyone Else)

Whale C
This session will review the recent study that found instructor mindset is KEY to student success. We will focus on ways to help all students feel welcome, included, successful and capable in your classes, hopefully without increasing your work load. We will look at student populations, their needs and accommodations that are reasonable without negatively impacting your outcomes.

Friday, 1:30–2:20 p.m.

Jason Engle
Getting Off the Beaten Path

Chinook B
Math is about more than implementing formulas and algorithms. It is only when a problem is presented that evades formulaic techniques that creative problem solving begins. A problem is not worth doing if it is perceived as impossible; likewise, a problem is not worth doing if it is too simple. A good problem will be just barely out of reach. A fantastic problem will be just barely out of reach for a room full of students with varying skills and abilities. We will consider some fantastic math problems.

Elizabeth Demong and Marty Cooksey
Financial Algebra: An Alternative to the Dev-Ed Sequence

Dolphin C
As part of the larger Guided Pathways work happening on our campus, and across our state, faculty from the Math and College and Career Pathways (formerly Basic Studies) Departments have partnered in a large-scale overhaul of our approach to math education. A major component of the math redesign involved condensing and contextualizing the developmental math sequence in terms of financial algebra. This presentation will focus on our course design and content which scaffolds students from basic math to the rich information density they will encounter in transfer-level math courses. We will also present the alignment of contextualized learning outcomes with the traditional Dev-Ed sequence, and dual-credit courses for high school students.

Emily Asher and Kurt Schaefer
Making History Useful in a Math Course

Whale A
Are math and history two subjects that can be laced together into one course? For about 4 years we have been co-teaching two math courses, one in finance and one in pre-engineering preparatory math. The students learn the math, business and technology concepts, then learn the history and philosophy behind them.

Sarah Adams
A Pragmatic Approach to “The Emporium Model”

Whale C
Are you a cynic? Do you secretly or…not so secretly, believe “The Emporium Model” is just a fad that will pass – a top-down idea – where development-time will never truly provide a clear return on investment? Do you believe that mediocre outcomes will be the only fruits of your labor? Then this presentation is for you! We will look at the “non-negotiables” that should be incorporated, while looking at promising practices for a fresh implementation. A time to discuss common issues that arise when using this model will be included. Consider how each college’s culture may shape the programs and success rates. What will each group discover from discussion and sharing? Come to this sugar-free presentation to find out!

Friday, 2:30–3:20 p.m.

Rajesh Lal
Let's Add Writing Anxiety on Top of Math Anxiety Yay!

Chinook B
What happened when I introduced writing in a precollege mathematics classroom? Discussion questions will include: what prevents us from assigning writing in our courses; what sorts of writing assignments should we assign; is there a framework we can use to create the assignments? The focus will be on short-responses writing assignments. Participants will be asked to share their experiences and writing assignments in their mathematics courses.

Teri Miller
Google Doc Collaborations for Active Learning

Dolphin C
Active learning online? It can be done! Learn how to run a Google Doc collaboration through Canvas and see how we are using it at Clark College in our online pre-college math sequence. The process for setting up a collaboration in a Canvas shell will be presented. Examples of how this has been used in classes will be shown and participants will be invited into a google doc collaboration so they can interact through that page during the session and record ideas for using this in any type of math class.

Murali Krishna
Unexpected Surprises

Whale A
Three different problems will be presented along with their very elegant proofs. The first is a modified Japanese Sangaku problem from 1800. An n sided convex polygon is inscribed in a circle and triangulated in any manner to yield (n - 2) triangles. A circle is inscribed in each of the inside triangles. We then show that the sum of the radii of these inscribed triangles is a constant regardless of the triangulation chosen! Second, we present Stanley's Theorem from 1972 that deals with partitions of +ve integers. This theorem states that the total number of 1's that occur among all partitions of a positive integer equals the sum of the numbers of distinct parts of those partitions. Third, we will show that on the average, a non negative integer has pi representations as the as the sum of squares of two integers! This result was discovered by Gauss around 1800.

Robert Weston
Co-requiste Course Design and Implementation

Whale C
Co-requisite support courses are meant to increase student success through earlier placement in college-level courses, with concurrent remediation and study skill development. This presentation will discuss the experience of faculty at Clark College designing and implementing these courses. This work is partially funded by a Washington College SPARK Community Grant.

Friday, 3:30–4:30 p.m.

Chinook B

Saturday, 9:30–10:20 a.m.

Bill Moore
Addressing High School to College Math Pathways in Washington

Chinook B
This session is an update on Bridge to College Math and Pathways initiatives. The goal is also to and perspectives on how we could think about math pathways in the critical transition period for students from the junior year in high school to the junior year in higher education.

Preston Kiekel
Multicultural Studies in a Math in Society Course

Whale C
Math in Society instructors sometimes incorporate ethnomathematics, the anthropology of mathematics. This presentation will explore: (a) cross-cultural mathematical studies, (b) addressing cultural biases in mathematics education, (c) where to find open-education resources on this topic, (d) teaching the course at a prison (Cedar Creek Corrections Center), and (e) anything else that sounds fun.

Saturday, 9:30–11:20 a.m.

Leslie Glen
Multiple Methods of Assessment

Dolphin C
Research has shown that lecture still works as a means of conveying academic content, but that it works better in conjunction with student-centered active learning. This presentation demonstrates an alternative to lecture for introduction to the shapes we call “The Conic Sections” and suggests an alternative method of assessment for the conic sections unit. By adapting and extending an activity used in high schools, I have created an entire unit that is activity based rather than lecture based. I will lead participants through the activity for discovering the ellipse and provide duplicable instructions for all of the conic sections.

Helen Burn and Ben King
Co-requisite Courses

Whale A

Saturday, 10:30–11:20 a.m.

Patrick Martin
How to put a math class online — without changing it!

Chinook B
This presentation will show how an online math class can operate almost exactly like an engaging face-to-face math class.  Methods include different types of videos, online office, live study groups, discussions and more.  Online math courses in Canvas that are almost exactly like face-to-face classes will be explored.  These courses have had a high retention rate with higher test scores than my former face-to-face math classes.

Saturday, 10:50–11:20 a.m.

Helen Burn
Is Your Teaching Typical?

Whale C
Learn how your classroom instruction compares with data on instruction collected through three sources: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3, NSF IUSE 1625918), the National Survey of Community College Mathematics Chairs, the Fall 2015 Conference Board of the Mathematics Sciences (CBMS, Blair, Kirkman, & Maxwell, 2018) and the Community College Instructional Development Inventory (CC-IDI, San Diego State University, 2010).