For the past two years, students in industrial design Professor and Program Chair Bret Smith’s third year product design studios have been collaborating with Dr. András Bezdek in the College of Science and Mathematics’ Department of Mathematics and Statistics to create hands-on mathematical equations. Bezdek approached Industrial Design because he wanted to create mathematical models to use in the classroom, and he wanted a designer’s touch.
“Visualization in mathematics is important at any age,” Bezdek explains, “It helps students to learn how to think mathematically. These models are good for all ages. They were created by students for students.”
There are thirty models and a display system. As Smith explains, “The models have to be presented in a way that engages the curiosity of the viewer. To do this, the industrial design students designed an exhibit and explanatory graphics that connected the models and mathematics to daily life.”
The first formal exhibition to high school students, “Math in Your Hands,” was in April when Auburn High School mathematics teacher Billy Ramsey brought his tenth graders to see it. Ramsey was very complimentary of the exhibit and thought it made mathematics more fun and relatable to his students.
“This is a great introduction to advanced concepts,” Ramsey said. “Students can actually get their hands on proofs and concepts that we have learned or are getting ready to learn.”
Currently the models are on permanent display in 350 Parker Hall. The design studios were supported by the Office of University Outreach.