Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mathematical muses

Last night I had a blast reading through my Calcsters' contribution to the world of letters. Many of their math-themed poems are positively delightful.

They run the gamut from simple, insightful haiku to epic poems in which the hero plays a pivotal role in the battle between the fractions and the decimals (one wonders what sort of heroic epithets would have to be invented to make this poem fit a classical hexametric form?). Some made math the thematic centerpiece, while others simply used it as an informant for the (as often physical as numerical) structure of their poems. Some were funny, witty, light, others were dark and brooding, still others intriguing and mysterious.

Many of them truly introspective and personal, and I thank my students for allowing me the chance to peer through this window onto their mathematical ideas.

I would like to post some of the poems, either in part or in their entirety, but I've first got to get permission from the authors. (Yes, yes, I know: I've still got to post some of the comments on Newton v.'s been a busy semester, all right??!)

I mentioned to Maggie the other night that I'd thought of compiling the students' poetry to produce a small bound volume they'd be able to keep as a memento. I think she liked the idea.

What say you, students? Sound like a good idea? Feel free to comment and let me know.

In other news: several students have mentioned how useful they've found 280 in improving their writing skills...the second round of 280 presentations came off rather well...I've started toying with the idea of using mathematical origami as a medium for guerrilla mathematics...and I've got two students from my Calc I classes who sound interested in looking at a little bit of graph theory over the break, just to make sure they get a head start on math research. The way I see it, the sooner they learn that math is much much much much much more than crunching numbers, the more they'll love it, and the better they'll be at it in the long run.

I am off.

I must run, quite literally.

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