Mindy Capaldi, "Teaching Mathematics Through Games" (American Mathematical Society, 2021)


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Games are an established aide in pre-college mathematics education. Meanwhile, innumerable popular books have investigated the mathematics of games. In a new edited volume for the AMS/MAA Classroom Resource Materials Series, topologist and NSF educational program director Mindy Capaldi and contributors join advanced topics with innovative lesson designs in possibly the first book of game-based mathematics education for college curricula. Teaching Mathematics Through Games (MAA Press, 2020) comprises lesson material for the full breadth of coursework taken by math students involving just as diverse and often surprising a breadth of games.

I've become interested in how edited collections come about, especially in mathematics, so i took some time at the start to ask Dr. Capaldi about the conception and production of this project. We then discussed a selection of six of the book's seventeen chapters that offer a sense of its scope and a taste of its value. To touch briefly on some chapters we did not discuss: Christine Latulippe use the combinatorial format of Sudoku and dates in the history of mathematics to practice converting between numeration systems; and Jacob Heidenreich adapts the game play of Battleship to hone students' understanding of properties of functions.

In addition to a detailed description of game play and how it ties in to the topic, each chapter contains exercises, problems, or activities that build upon the core lesson, and an online supplement provides material to support the lessons in practice. The book is designed specifically for instructors and provides rich material for an active learning curriculum, but avid and curious gamers and math geeks will also find much to enjoy.

Suggested companion works:

Mindy Capaldi is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Valparaiso University in Indiana. She completed her Ph.D. at North Carolina State University in 2010 and is currently on a leave of absence as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation.

Cory Brunson is an Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida. His research focuses on geometric and topological approaches to the analysis of medical and healthcare data.

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