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REF NO.: 175

SUBJECT: Special session for math education to take place June 6-8
DATE: June 4, 2009

Memorial University is preparing to host the 2009 summer meetings of the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) and the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics (CSHPM) from June 6-8.

The Canadian Mathematical Society promotes and advances the discovery, learning and application of mathematics in Canada by fostering the community of mathematicians, promoting mathematical research, and supporting education efforts at all levels. The semi-annual meetings provide a forum for the sharing of information and the networking of colleagues and features internationally-renowned plenary and session speakers. The CSHPM, founded in 1974, promotes research and teaching in the history and philosophy of mathematics.

The Special Session for Math Education taking place during the summer meetings is co-sponsored by the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet) and has a strong focus on numeracy and its implications for mathematics education. The session features talks from six developmental psychologists, a high school teacher from Saskatchewan who demands research soundness in his innovative pedagogy, and two mathematicians with very successful careers in both mathematics and the visual and performing arts.

Helaman Ferguson, a mathematician and sculptor, is the plenary speaker who will deliver a public lecture on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Inco Innovation Centre lecture theatre, room IIC-2001. Dr. Ferguson is both a sculptor whose work is located in institutions and collections worldwide and an internationally known mathematician whose algorithm has been listed as one of the top 10 in the 20th century. He will be delivering an illustrated lecture entitled Mathematics in Stone and Bronze. His mathematical sculptures in stone and bronze celebrate ancient and modern mathematical discoveries, melding the universal languages of sculpture and mathematics. Using multimedia in his talk, Dr. Ferguson traces his creations from initial concept, mathematical design, computer graphics, diamond cutting and final form. His lectures have fascinated audiences worldwide, bringing together multiple disciplines and stimulating dialogue among them.

John Mighton is another individual with successful careers in both mathematics and the arts who is speaking in the Numeracy/Math Education special session. A mathematician, author, playwright, and the founder of JUMP Math (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies), Dr. Mighton completed a Ph D in mathematics at the University of Toronto and was awarded an NSERC fellowship for postdoctoral research in knot and graph theory. He is currently a Fellow of the Fields Institute for Mathematical Research and an adjunct professor of mathematics at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Mighton’s national best-selling book, The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child, describes his successes with JUMP, and how anyone can learn and teach math. In May of 2007 he released a follow-up book to The Myth of Ability called The End of Ignorance.

A playwright with plays performed across Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States, he has won several national awards including the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama, the Dora Award, the Chalmers Award and the Siminovitch Prize. His play Possible Worlds was made into a full-length feature film directed by Robert Lepage. John is currently adapting Brian Greene's book, The Elegant Universe, for a production with Robert Lepage.

On the strictly academic side, six talks in developmental psychology will be delivered byJeff Bisanz, University of Alberta; Peter Bryant, University of Oxford, U.K.; Daniel Ansari, University of Western Ontario; Terezinha Nunes, University of Oxford, U.K.; Darcy Hallett, Memorial University and Michael Rabinowitz, Memorial University.

Garry Davis, a high school teacher from the Saskatoon Public School Division, will also speaking about his pilot program for assisting under-achieving students entering high school using an approach similar to the program developed by the Mathematics Learning Center at Memorial University. He will be talking about the successes and challenges of this pilot project.

This special session is also being sponsored by the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS), the President’s Office of Memorial University, the Vice-Presidents’ Offices of Memorial University, and the Department of Psychology.

For more information about these meetings, please contact either Graham Wright, executive director of the CMS, at director@cms.math.ca or at (613) 290-3046, or Sherry Mantyka, session organizer, at smantyka@mun.ca, or at 737-3308.

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