# Math Resources

## Math In The News

Bob Moses died Sunday, July 25, 2021. He inspired millions, including many in our program, to insist on, and demand, high quality math education for every child. The following is quoted in full from the SNCC Digital Gateway.

Math literacy, like reading and writing, is necessary for full citizenship, says Bob Moses. This unexpected thought began to take concrete form with the SNCC veteran’s own family, when his daughter, Maisha Moses, entered the eighth grade at Martin Luther King Middle School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was ready for algebra, he felt, and had long practiced math with him. However, the King school didn’t offer algebra classes for eighth graders. So Bob Moses asked his daughter’s teacher, Mary Lou Merhling, if he could pull his daughter aside and teach her himself–at the time Moses was working on his doctorate in the philosophy of math at Harvard University. Merhling was open to the idea, especially if he was willing to work with the other three students who also requested algebra. “I agreed to take on the additional three students,” remembered Moses, “and thus began the Algebra Project.”

Bob Moses had pioneered SNCC’s voter registration organizing in Mississippi during the early sixties. “There was a kind of universal agreement among Blacks in Mississippi,” he explained, “that people should be registered to vote.” Working with local leaders like Amzie Moore and Aaron Henry, SNCC used this consensus around the vote as an organizing tool “to get people to pull themselves together and provide their own leadership” in local movements of change. Victoria Gray, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi felt that the strength of the Movement rested in the participation of local people. “Once they were able to rise about their fear, they had the courage to stand up for what was rightfully theirs as citizens of this country.”

Moses’s experience in the Mississippi Movement helped lay the foundation for the Algebra Project in the mid-1980s. He recognized that structural changes–the deindustrialization of America’s cities and the rise of information technologies–were reshaping the country’s economy, and poor and minority students were being left behind. “We are growing the equivalent of sharecroppers in our inner cities.”

Moses viewed math literacy, and particularly algebra, as a key to unlocking first-class citizenship for poor students. “The shift in technology is. . . forcing a shift from literacy that was just reading and writing to a literacy which also encompasses this quantitative information.” Algebraic thinking would provide students with the language needed to function in this changing world economy, but most middle schools–especially those serving minorities–didn’t even offer algebra classes.

Where Moses saw a problem, he also saw the potential to organize for change. “My civil rights movement experience was guiding my thinking as much as my training in mathematics,” Moses recalled, as he began working with students, teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop a consensus and a movement around algebra for all students. He asked, “Can a culture be created. . . where every child is expected to get ready for and do algebra in the eighth grade?”

This community organizing work in Cambridge grew into the Algebra Project, an incorporated non-profit organization dedicated to raising the floor in math education. Through student-centered teaching methods and a curriculum rooted in students’ life experiences, the Algebra Project empowered all students, including underperforming students, through math. One parent wrote that “the demystification of the subject by relating it to life experiences” helped her daughter “overcome her fear of math.”

The Algebra Project’s curriculum began with a real-life experience, like riding on a subway train, and used a series of steps to move students towards abstract conceptualizations of complicated math subjects. Students were active members of the classroom and their input was an essential part of the learning process. Merhling, who first let Moses work in her classroom in 1982, felt that both she and her students were empowered by the Algebra Project’s student-centered approach to learning math.

Over the past thirty years, the Algebra Project spread beyond Cambridge. In the 1990s, projects were started in Boston, Chicago, Oakland, Atlanta, and many other cities. Dave Dennis, who worked closely with Moses in Mississippi, began the Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project and started projects in several southern states, including in Jackson, Mississippi.

Bob Moses Begins the Algebra Project, retrieved July 29, 2021.

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## Random Math

*Last updated 2/22/2021*

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

-Thelonius Monk

## Updates

**UW Math Placement***Last updated 5/12/2020*

Just in from the UW Math Department, some answers to your questions:

Q) *Are there any math problems I’ll need to solve on the new assessment?*

A) Yes, there are still math problems students will solve. We give instructions, which mimic a midterm exam test for us, so the student should take it seriously. They will check their own work to see if they got the problem correct.

Q)* Do I need to take the assessment if I completed AP Calculus? Running Start Precalculus? Running Start Calculus? IB Math?*

A) All of our previous AP, running start and IB policies are still in place. In fact, this new process does not give a student the ability to bypass Math 124. So if a student earned credit for Math 124 through AP or running start, then they can take Math 125. If a student earned credit for MATH 098 or MATH 120, we would still encourage them to take the GSP since it is available but they could also just register for the next course they think they are ready to take.

Q) *If I do not NEED to take the test, should I take it anyway?*

A) All students in MATH 111, MATH 120 or MATH 124 will be asked to take the GSP. Some faculty will likely have their first homework or quiz be similar to the GSP assessment. So it is important that students take the GSP and have a good understanding of their mathematical foundation when entering the course. Maybe they take the GSP and realize they need to work on their understanding of trigonometry even though they took pre-calc/trig. We will provide a review materials website that helps students refresh their math skills before the quarter begins.

**AP Calculus***Last updated 5/30/2020*

If you will be taking a makeup AP exam in June, please contact us! We can help!

Also, log in to your College Board account to ensure you’re registered for the test. PLEASE contact us and your school if you have ANY questions!

## Current Challenge Question

*Earn up to 8 points! Top 3 points earners (tie goes to earliest submissions) win prizes!*

Show that the square of every prime number greater than 3 is one more than a multiple of 24.

Submit your answer to mlcoats@uw.edu

## Math Is Fun.

*Updated 23 September 2020*

One day a farmer called up an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician and asked them to fence of the largest possible area with the least amount of fence.

The engineer made the fence in a circle and proclaimed that he had the most efficient design.

The physicist made a long, straight line and proclaimed “We can assume the length is infinite…” and pointed out that fencing off half of the Earth was certainly a more efficient way to do it.

The Mathematician just laughed at them. She built a tiny fence around herself and said “I declare myself to be on the outside.”