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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans

Tracing Math's Evolution
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Student Prerequisites:
Students need to know how to connect to a Web site and follow links.

Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.5 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences

    Compilation of African-American scientists and mathematicians, grouped by content area, and linked to biographical sites.

  • Mathematicians/Scientists

    List of mathematicians with links to biographical sites.


    Time Allotment:
    This lesson will take 1 - 3 class periods.

  • Introduce the topic by telling students that they are going to find out about the background of some of the concepts and theories they study in math class. To generate interest, you could brainstorm ideas about what mathematicians do in their working lives, and list the kinds of jobs and fields in which they might work.

  • Distribute the student worksheet, Who Am I? Students should work in small groups to identify one or two of the mathematicians. Students should go to the bookmarked Web sites and figure out the identities of the listed mathematicians. They can also use traditional research resources. When students have discovered the identity of their mathematicians, they should work in groups to devise a presentation about them. Students can use the Presentation Worksheet, located in Organizers for Students, to plan their presentations. Have groups present information about their mathematicians to the entire class.

    You may want to have students write a report on the process their group went through to develop their presentation, so that you can see how each group member contributed.

    Answer Key:

    1. Annie Easley, computer scientist
    2. Katherine G. Johnson, physicist, space scientist, mathematician
    3. Evelyn Boyd Granville, mathematician
    4. Benjamin Banneker, inventor
    5. George Washington Carver, inventor
    6. al'Khawarizmi, mathematician
    7. Raman, physicist, mathematician
    8. Chu Shih-Chieh, mathematician
    9. Erastosthenes, mathematician, scientist
    10. Hypatia, mathematician, astronomer
    11. Pedro Nunez, mathematician, navigator
    12. Granville T. Woods, inventor

  • You can use any or all of these activities to extend the lesson as interest and time allow:

    • Students research additional mathematicians and create their own Who Am I? sheets.

    • Each student selects a mathematician and thoroughly researches the person.

    • With the class acting as a panel, play a game of 20 questions to guess the identity of students' subjects, in the manner of the TV show WHAT'S MY LINE?

    • As the class studies various math concepts, include discussions of the mathematicians who contributed to the development of that concept.

    • Create a timeline of math history, showing important dates, places, people, and events.


    Language Arts: Students could write letters from the point of view of one of the mathematicians they researched, telling about their greatest achievements in their field.


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (Always have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer, in order to show them examples of what to look for.) When the groups have finished working have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked sites.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students