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05/15/1996 07:00:00

Project MATHEMATICS! Receives Several New Honors

PASADENA—Project MATHEMATICS!, which produces highly acclaimed educational videotapes that have been seen by more than 10 million students, has recently received several new honors—three grants to support the project and a world medal recognizing its high-quality work.

During its seven-year history of producing nine videotapes and workbooks that explore basic topics in high school mathematics, Project MATHEMATICS! has captured a dozen gold or silver medals at international festivals. The latest is a silver medal award from the New York Festivals 1995 International Nonbroadcast Media Competition for "The Tunnel of Samos." The video tells the story of one of the greatest engineering achievements of ancient times. In the sixth century B.C., on the Greek island of Samos, workers using primitive tools carved a level, one-kilometer tunnel straight through the heart of a mountain, employing separate crews that dug from both ends and met in the middle. No written records exist to show how this was accomplished, but the video describes how it could have been planned through an ingenious use of elementary geometry. Just recently, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education selected "The Tunnel of Samos" to be included in an upcoming CD-ROM package, which the clearinghouse is preparing to distribute free of charge to 25,000 high schools nationwide.

The Intel Foundation, a long-time supporter of Project MATHEMATICS!, made a grant of $75,600 to support project activities, including the production and distribution of solution manuals for the existing workbooks that accompany a series of videos on sines and cosines. This latest Intel Foundation award follows earlier grants made in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1995 to support a variety of project efforts.

Two grants of computer equipment were awarded to the project by Hewlett-Packard. They provided three state-of-the-art computers to be used by a team of seven high school students and their mathematics teacher at Rowland High School in Rowland Heights, California, to produce animation for "Sines and Cosines, Part IV," the 10th and latest video in the project series. These machines are being used exclusively by students working on animation for this project. Rowland High School's student-produced animated videotape project was previously selected as one of the first-place winners in a Project MATHEMATICS! contest held in 1994 and jointly sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and the Intel Foundation. Winners were chosen for innovative and creative use of Project MATHEMATICS! materials in the classroom. Hewlett-Packard has made a total of five grants of computer equipment to the project since 1989.

Project MATHEMATICS! was created by Tom Apostol, Caltech professor of mathematics, emeritus, to provide visual support material for high school mathematics, which traditionally relies on books and chalkboards. The videos bring the subject to life with colorful moving images, music, and a sense of humor. "We want to grab students' attention so they'll want to learn," explains Apostol. "Computer animation helps students visualize mathematical concepts and understand them more easily."

With major funding from the National Science Foundation and additional support from Hewlett-Packard and the Intel Foundation, the project, according to Apostol, represents an ideal cooperative effort by government, industry, and the educational community to improve the teaching of mathematics.

Written by Sue McHugh