Projects for Multicultural Mathematics

Each project involves exploring a topic covered in class in more depth.  There will be two projects, each worth 5% of your semester grade.

Project 1 (due October 31st)

Projects should be about 5 pages typewritten or neatly handwritten, including diagrams.  You may do the projects in groups of 4 or 5.  Ninety percent of your grade will be the overall grade I give the project;  ten percent will be based on a peer evaluation.  Projects will be graded on completeness, mathematical content, and originality.

Fantasy Math.  Create your own number system, as J.R.R. Tolkein did in the Lord of the Rings.  You'll need

• spoken names for your numbers
• written symbols for your numbers
• (optional) a finger counting system
• a multiplication table for the numbers 1 through b+2, where b is the base of your system
• a sketch of a mathematical ``artifact'' produced by your fictional culture
• a history for your number system, including a description of the (fictional) culture that produced it and the reason why the base was chosen
The only restriction is that your system can't be base 10, 2, 5, 12, 20, or 60, since we've already studied examples like these.  In designing your number system, keep in mind the questions
• how easy is our system to learn?
• how easy is our system to write?
• are the meanings of the number symbols clear, or is there some ambiguity?
• does our system lend itself to calculations well?
Number systems scoring highest on these questions will receive the highest grades.

Project 2

due December 13th by 5:00 pm to Barbelin 229.  Appointments must be requested before 5:00 pm on Monday, December 9th, and must be completed by 5:00 pm December 13th.

Projects can be done in groups of one to three people.  The length of projects varies, but should be about 2-4 pages depending on your topic.  Alternatively, if you choose a storytelling or drumming project, you can make an appointment with me and present the project instead of writing it out.  Projects will be graded on completeness, mathematical content, and originality.

1. Sona for the 21st century.   Create several sona drawings relevant to your own life, using traditional sona construction methods.   Use them to tell a story.  Indicate how the drawing should be paced to go along with the story.  You can either turn this in or do an oral presentation.

2.
3. The chased-chicken sona.  Analyze the chased-chicken design in the same way we analyzed the plaited-mat design in class.  First, learn how to draw the design.  What are the possible number of rows and columns of dots?  How can you predict the number of lines needed to make the design?   Write a brief description of how to draw the design, and report your findings on the number of lines needed.

4.
5. Celtic knotwork design.  Create a page-sized Celtic design, using several different knots.  You could make a holiday greeting card or anything else you want.  Turn in two pages to me:  (1) your original design (2) the grid used to construct the design.

6.
7. Unravelling the mysteries of sona drawings.  Historians know very little of how particular sona drawings related to their accompanying stories.  Choose one of the traditional Chokwe sonas, and write a story to go with it.  Indicate how the drawing should be paced to go along with the story.  If you choose this project, I can give you more photocopies of sonas for inspiration.  You can either turn this in or do an oral presentation.

8.
9. Polyrhythms.  Learn how to clap or drum three different polyrhythms (for example 2 against 3, 3 against 4, and 4 against 5).  Make an appointment with me to show what you have learned.   Be prepared to discuss the mathematics behind the rhythms.