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Sobecki to Discuss Elephants, Fuzzy Dogs, and the Size of Infinity

Posted on 3/30/2011 12:36:37 PM

Dr. Dave Sobecki from Miami University (Ohio) will be visiting the Mathematics Department on Thursday and Friday, March 31 and April 1, 2011.

On Thursday, Dave will give a talk geared towards faculty entitled “Of Elephants, Fuzzy Dogs, and Teaching Backwards: A Story about Making Your Course Engaging.” This talk will be in Stright 302 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

On Friday, Dave’s talk will be geared towards students. He will present “Dude, Just How Big IS Infinity?” in Stright 229 from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Dave Sobecki is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at Miami University in Hamilton, Ohio. He earned a B.A. in math education from Bowling Green State University before continuing on to earn an M.A. and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Bowling Green State University. He has written or coauthored five journal articles, eleven books, and five interactive CD-ROMs.

Abstracts for both talks can be found below.

“Of Elephants, Fuzzy Dogs, and Teaching Backwards: A Story About Making Your Course Engaging”

Abstract: The traditional method of teaching math goes something like this: Definition; Theorem; Example; Example; Example; Application. Many of us feel pretty comfortable with that—hey, it worked for us. But does it work well for the average student? I propose a backward method: starting with applications to introduce and motivate the math. When you start to think this way, it opens up a world of possibilities. I’d like to share some of my world of possibilities, as well as some other strategies I use to keep students involved in their learning.

“Dude, Just How Big IS Infinity?”

Abstract: Everyone knows that infinity is pretty darn big, but just how big? In this talk, I’ll present scenarios that will lead us into answering difficult arithmetic questions like “What is infinity plus infinity?.” Along the way, we’ll learn about different types of infinity and how they apply to sets of numbers you’re familiar with. We’ll close with some perspective on a topic that most people should have some understanding of, but very few actually do: the amount of money that our government actually spends. It’s not infinite, but the sizes will probably surprise you when compared to numbers you’re more familiar with.