Teaching Philosophy for Applied Mathematics Courses
In applied math courses, such as ''mathematical methods for the physical sciences I and II'' (math 200201),
it is important that students come away with an understanding of not only the mathematical tools, but the process
by which math is a integral part of scientific thought. This is why applications are an important part of
any applied mathematics course. In math 200/201, students work in groups of 24 on projects ranging from modeling the ''habitable zone''
of a star system to population dynamics in the presence of an infectious disease (some examples are linked on the left bar of this page). While equations and theorems can be ''looked up,''
a sharp, logical, and analytical mind is something that can't be found in an index.
In the words of a few students who recently finished the math 200/201 series:
''...math is more than just numerical and analytical methods to manipulate [numbers]. It is logic, and logic was never meant to be limited to calculators [and] textbooks.''
''...[the reports] force you to understand, and it's always easier to communicate when you know what your talking about.''
''Writing math is very different than solving problems.''
''The material was clearly applicable to 'realworld' problems, which I found interesting.''
''I understand why we study differential equations. Since I am interested in biology, I liked doing a report that related this math class to biology.''
''After this Fall, I was ready to throw in the towel with math...[but] after 200/201 I refound my passion [for math]...''
And finally, from one group who did a research project on modeling fish populations and sustainable fishing using differential equations:
''If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime...thanks for teaching us how to fish.''
