OpenLab #4: Math in your future?

Most people go to college because they are trying to build a better future for themselves.  What job do you hope to get after college?  Imagine you have completed your college degree, and your education and experience have allowed you to obtain the job that you want.

With this job in mind, consider the following list of activities.  Which of them are you most likely to be asked to do as part of your new job?  Put them in order from most likely to least likely.  If you are uncertain, make your best guess based on your current knowledge and experience.

List of activities:

  1. Use a formula (correctly identify values, substitute them into the formula, and simplify the result to get an answer).
  2. Learn to use a computer system that is unfamiliar to you, and then complete a task on that system.
  3. Brainstorm a variety of responses to a problem and decide among several solutions, each of which has plusses and minuses.
  4. Make a decision based on data (for example: a list of responses to a survey, a list of numbers, a table, or chart)
  5. Calculate the mean or standard deviation.
  6. Complete an assignment with a team of several people, including: finding a time and place to meet, dividing responsibilities, making sure everyone is completing their part, delivering the final product on time.

Assignment (due Thursday, March 7):

Respond to the above activity by leaving a comment in response to this post.  Your comment should include all of the following:

  1. What is your major?  What job are you hoping to get after graduation?
  2. From the list of activities above, give your ranking in order from “most likely to be required on your new job” to “least likely”.
  3. Discuss the first item on your list.  Do you think that this class will help prepare you to complete that task?  If so, how?  If not, what could be done in this class to help prepare you for that task?
  4. Discuss the last item on your list.  Do you think it is important to learn (even if you are not likely to use it at your job)?  Why or why not?

Extra Credit.  Comment on  someone else’s post.   Do you agree or disagree? Why?

OpenLab #3: Take a break

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has responded so far, BUT… the point of this assignment is to give your classmates the chance to explore new, fun music! So I’ve added a requirement — you MUST include at least one or two specific songs in your post in order to get the extra credit (it would be extra special if you include a youtube link!).  Yes, it’s hard to decide on just one or two, and I know you like lots and lots of different music…  tough luck.

You have no OpenLab assignment this weekend – use the time to catch up on other work and study for the exam.

Extra credit (due Thursday, 2/28, at 2:30pm).  Tell me what music you like.  What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod?  I’m listening to Parov Stelar (“compulsively listenable electroswing”) and alt-J (“creamy vocals, hip-hop drums, folk guitar and synth”).  A few ground rules:  No offensive lyrics, be considerate of others, feel free to include a link but only to a legal site such as YouTube or SoundCloud.

OpenLab #2: Advice from the past

Last summer I taught this course, MAT 1272, in summer school.  Just before the final, I gave my students the following assignment:

Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 1272, to give advice to entering students.  Write a paragraph…describing what you would tell them.

To see the assignment and the students’ responses, follow this link.

Your assignment, due next Thursday, 2/21/13 at 2:30pm, is to:

  1. Read throughALL the responses (there are 38 of them, but some are quite short).
  2. Write a reply to this post (1 paragraph) responding to all of the following:
    1. What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)
    2. Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you with this course?

NOTE: Some of the advice is related specifically to the fact that it is a summer course, which covers the same material that we are covering but in the space of only 5 weeks.  Feel free to ignore these comments, as they do not apply to us!

WeBWork #1: UPDATE

This is just a quick update regarding problem #8, since it includes something you have not yet seen:

When a stem-and-leaf diagram contains TWO ROWS for each stem (for example, “18” appears at the start of the first and also the second row), the convention is to split up the leaves as follows:

  • leaves 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 go in the first row
  • leaves 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 go in the second row

If you have any questions about this please send me an email or leave a comment below.

Best of luck!

Mr. Reitz

OpenLab Assignment #1: Mathography

Heads up: if you’re looking for the “Welcome and Getting Started” post that was here before, it now appears farther down the page — just scroll down to see it.

This assignment is due Thursday, February 14th, at the start of class (2:30pm).  Late submissions will receive partial credit.

Assignment.  Choose ONE of the following two topics.  Write a comment in reply to this post (click “Leave a Reply” below), responding to the topic in 1-2 paragraphs.  Begin by telling us which topic you chose.   Be sure to include your name so I can give you credit.


  1. Was math ever your favorite subject? If so, when was it? What about math made it your favorite? If math has never been your favorite subject, what about it do you not like?
  2. Sometimes people can recognize a time when their opinion of math dramatically changed either for the better or the worse. If such a time happened for you, tell about it. If you did not experience such a thing, tell about your steady feelings about mathematics.

Extra Credit.  For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments.  Do you feel the same?  Did you learn anything?  Do you have any advice?  Be kind.

Why are we doing this, anyway?  Having progressed this far in your school career, you are familiar with many of the tools for learning math:  studying, practicing by doing problems, asking questions when you need help, and so on.  I’d like to talk about two activities that may NOT seem related to learning math — but research shows that engaging in these activities can dramatically increase the amount that you learn, and change the way you learn it.  The first is writing – something not typically associated with mathematics.  When you express your ideas in words, it forces you to think them through very carefully, detail by detail.  A great way to check and see if you really understand something is to try to explain it to someone else, either out loud or in writing.  Example: if you know how to add fractions, try teaching it someone who doesn’t know how.  The second is called metacognition, or “thinking about thinking.”  This happens when you think about what was going on in your head while you were working on a problem or trying to learn a new idea.  What train of thought did you follow?  Where did you get stuck, and what did you do next?  What were you feeling at the time? and so on.  Combining writing and metacognition can be a tremendously powerful tool in identifying the ways we learn best and the ways we make mistakes, and learning to improve.  However, like any skill, it takes practice.  That’s why we’re getting started by writing a little about our past experiences with mathematics.

Getting Started with WeBWorK

Heads up: if you’re looking for the “Welcome and Getting Started” post that was here before, it now appears farther down the page — just scroll down to see it.

WeBWorK is accessible from on and off campus (anywhere you have access to the internet).  Your first assignment will be due on Thursday, February 14th, and will cover the material from Sections 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3.  Here’s what you have to do:

Assignment.  You must complete the following three steps.

Step 1.  Log in to WeBWorK here:  I have created Usernames and Passwords for each student registered for my class.

Username.  Your username for WeBWorK consists of your first initial plus your last name, all lowercase (for example, John Smith would have username ‘jsmith’).

Password.  Your temporary password is the same as your username (if your username is ‘jsmith’, your password is currently ‘jsmith’).

Step 2.  Change your password and update your email address.  To do this, select “Password/Email” from the main menu on the left.  Use whatever email address you like (I suggest using one that you check often).

Step 3.  Complete the first assignment, titled Assignment1 – Sec 2.1-2.3, by clicking on it in the main screen.

If you have any trouble – either with logging in, or with completing the assignment, post a comment here or send me an email and I will get back to you.

WeBWorK Tips:

  1. Click on a problem to see the details (the list of problems appears in the menu on the left).  Enter an answer and hit “Submit Answers”.  Don’t worry, if you get it wrong you can try it again.
  2. If the answer is a number:  you can enter it either as a decimal, like 72.2566 (round your answer), or as an exact answer, like 23*pi.
  3. You can work on the problems in any order you wish.  You can do some problems now, and come back and do the rest another day (your work will be saved, as long as you submit your answers).
  4. If you want to print out a copy of the assignment, click on the assignment name in the main menu on the left, and then click the link in the main screen area that reads “Download a hardcopy of this homework set.”