- Professor: Dr. Laura Taalman, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
- Class meetings: TuTh 9:30–10:45 AM in JMU 3SPACE, Burruss 349
- Textbooks: Fractals: A Very Short Introduction, by Kenneth Falconer; and Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, by Matt Parker
- Final Presentations: 8:00–10:00 AM on Thursday, December 14
// Course Description
MATH 103. The Nature of Mathematics. 3 credits.
Topics such as geometry, computing, algebra, number theory, history of mathematics, logic, probability, statistics, modeling and problem solving intended to give students insight into what mathematics is, what it attempts to accomplish and how mathematicians think.
Our explorations of mathematics in this course will be supported by 3D printing and design in the JMU 3SPACE Classroom. This will be a highly digital course and we will be using the internet as our primary textbook. We will also make use of online collaboration and publication tools, and use 3D design software and coding to create and explore mathematical objects. Main topics will include fractals and the fourth dimension, but we may also investigate puzzles, knots, polyhedra, graph theory, computational geometry, topology, squircles, splines, or whatever we find interesting. This course meets the objectives for Cluster Three: The Natural World in the JMU General Education program.
// Why 3D Printing?
3D printing is an additive manufacturing process whereby objects are built up from plastic filament, liquid resin, layers of powder, or even bio-compatible and edible materials. Desktop 3D printing is today’s printing press, putting rapid prototyping, customizable products, and individualized medical appliances in reach of the general public. Literacy in basic 3D modeling and manufacturing is an essential skill for future STEM success in this country, and a powerful tool for understanding mathematical objects and processes. In this course students will learn how to be “mathematical makers” by using various types of 3D modeling software, printing actual physical objects that they have designed and modeled themselves, and communicating their work to the university community and the external 3D printing community.
The number and types of assignments will vary throughout the semester depending on the course we take in this class. I anticipate that the breakdown will be similar to the following:
- 25% Small assignments: Readings, quizzes on watched videos, completion of logistical tasks, online surveys, class participation, and occasional in-class or online exams to assess individual learning of mathematics and proficiency with 3D design tools.
- 25% Individual projects and documentation: Project proposals and implementation, including photos, blog posts, mathematical descriptions, 3D printed models, and presentations.
- 25% Group projects and documentation: Project proposals and implementation, including photos, blog posts, mathematical descriptions, 3D printed models, and presentations. Work is expected to be shared equally among group members and these proejcts will be graded on a group basis while taking into account evaluations from group members.
- 25% Final project: Project proposal and implementation, including photos, blog posts, mathematical descriptions, 3D printed models, and presentations. These will likely be done on a group basis, but individual projects will also be considered. You will be expected to demonstrate that your final project goes beyond your mid-class projects in scope and execution.
A complete list of all assignments and grade opportunities, with due dates, will be kept at the Assignments page of the class website.
// Class Rules
I have a few rules specific to my class and classroom that I hope you will follow:
- We will be meeting in a computer classroom, and it can be tempting to tinker with the computers at inappropriate times. When I am talking or when another student is presenting, please keep hands and eyes off your computer to give your full attention.
- You may keep your cell phone out to see brief notifications or even to send a quick text that takes just a few seconds, but please do not use your phone for a prolonged period, even under your desk. 🙂
- I will always end class on time, because I know that many of you have other classes that you need to get to in a timely fashion. If you notice that the class period has expired, even by 10 seconds, please let me know and I will immediately end class.
- The flipside of the rule above is that I ask that you please not start packing up your things before class is over, because it makes a lot of distracting rustling noises.
// Attendance Policy
This is an extremely hands-on course in which you will often be working as part of a group with other students. While one or two absences over the course of the semester is okay, multiple absences will impact your grade for the course. If you do miss class, it is your responsibility to learn what you missed from other students and the class website. If you have special circumstances such as JMU-approved travel, medical illness, or family emergencies that keep you from class, please let me know.
// Inclement Weather Policy
Information concerning cancellation of classes due to inclement weather is available at www.jmu.edu, on the campus radio 1610 AM, or by calling (540) 433-5300.
// Statement of Compliance With Americans With Disabilities
JMU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandate reasonable accommodations be provided for students with documented disabilities. If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodations, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate provision of accommodations you may need. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Office of Disability Services, the designated office on campus to provide services for students with disabilities. The office is located in Wilson Hall, Room 107 and you may call 540-568-6705 for more information.
// Religious Accommodations
All members of the faculty are required to give reasonable and appropriate accommodations to students requesting them on grounds of religious observation. The faculty member determines what accommodations are appropriate for his/her course. Students should notify the faculty member by no later than the end of the Drop-Add period the first week of the semester of potential scheduled absences and determine with the instructor if mutually acceptable alternative methods exist for completing the missed classroom time, lab or activity.
// The JMU Honor Code
I absolutely encourage all of you to work together both inside and outside of class. However, any instances of suspected cheating or academic dishonesty will be referred to the JMU Honor Board for investigation. For complete information, please consult the JMU Honor Code.
// Who are you?
I have aphantasia, which among other things makes it difficult for me to recognize people, especially when they are out of context — for example, if you switch seats in class, come to my office hours, or run into me at the grocery store. Please do not be insulted if it takes me a long time to be able to recognize you or remember your name! When you see me outside of the classroom, just remind me of your name and what class you are in, or maybe what we were talking about the last time we met. In class, I will ask that students use nametags and stay in a relatively consistent seating arrangement. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you this semester! ?