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math topics for short research/people or issues

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I have a math lover (ds, 9th grade) who would write and research more readily, I think, if he could do so from a place of interest. I'm teaching beginning MLA documentation with Put That In Writing, and you start with two or three sources, and work on building research skills for essay use. Could any suggest math personalities, past and present or current math application issues for his source material?


I am NOT mathy, oh so not!



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There are many very interesting mathematicians on which he could do biographical research. Euler or Gauss are obvious choices. Evariste Galois is an extremely interesting figure with a very tragic end.


Alternatively, he could choose a mathematical topic. Since he probably has not had much math beyond algebra, the topic needs to be accessible. Fermat's great theorem would be a choice; the theorem is extremely easy to understand, has an interesting history (there is a book by Simon Singh about it), but he will not be able to understand the proof.

Other topics would be the four color problem (how many colors are needed to color a map?), classical conundrums like squaring the circle or trisecting an angle.


He could also write about a topic in ancient times: Euklid and his approach to geometry (but it would be helpful if he had geometry).

Or: the Sumerian number system

The history of Zero

the invention of algebra


or he could write a technical paper explaining certain mathematical operations- for instance the conversion between decimal and binary system

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I'll add a couple of ideas:


--the Konigsberg Bridge Problem


--Paper constructions such as flexi-hexagons, Platonic solids or stellated icosahedra


--The Birthday Paradox






--Book report on Flatland

Edited by Jane in NC
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