SIAM News Blog

SIAM-NSF Modeling Across the Curriculum Keeps Youth Engaged in STEM

By Peter Turner

The first of the SIAM-NSF Modeling Across the Curriculum (MaC) workshops was held at NSF at the very end of August 2012. The meeting had about 50 participants representing different applied mathematics education constituencies. The overarching goal for MaC is to “Engage and keep young people in STEM disciplines, from K-12 through undergraduate (and graduate) studies and into the workforce.” The workshop had three main themes: increasing math modeling in undergraduate programs and curricula, bringing modeling and computational applied mathematics into high schools, and evaluation and assessment of both current state of readiness for incoming STEM undergraduates, and their successful transition through the first two years in college. In many ways, the workshop represented a coordinated response to the PCAST Engage to Excel document that was planned well before that document saw the light of day.

Recommendations in all three topic areas included both short-term action items and important questions and topics that need to be addressed. The high level summary of these is to:

  • Expand modeling in K-12

  • Develop a one-semester or one-year high school modeling course with stratified content

  • Develop modeling-based undergraduate curricula (both through dedicated courses and by infusion of modeling throughout)

  • Develop a repository of materials for all aspects and levels of math modeling instruction, learning and understanding.

A report on the workshop, which provides more detail on all the high level recommendations above, is available here.

A second workshop, MaC II, is being held in Alexandria, VA (at the American Statistical Association headquarters) immediately prior to the January Joint Math Meetings in Baltimore. More on this in a later post.

Other important SIAM student activities recently have included organization of Student Days at SIAM Annual Meetings, participation in the INGenIOuS workshop, developing a report on undergraduate applied mathematics programs, working with the CBMS (Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences) on planning a Forum on undergraduate programs, and of course, Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, the high school math modeling contest organized in partnership with The Moody’s Foundation. The Challenge is not under the direct control of the Education Committee, but is certainly synergistic with our activities and links well with MaC. Future blogs will address some of these.

Peter Turner is the Dean of Arts and Sciences and a professor of mathematics at Clarkson University.

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