Using Hollywood as a Tool for Quantitative Fluency

By Costas John Efthimiou, Barry J. Griffiths and Dan Maronde.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The role of modern day instructors has changed to the point that many feel they have to act like circus performers to keep the attention of freshman students. In what can often be a hostile environment for teaching, instructors look to invent new approaches to educate students without reducing the content to a superficial level.
Modeled after a successful project in Physics (known as Physics in Films) undertaken by one of us (C. Efthimiou), we have introduced a counterpart in Mathematics-Math in Films-for non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) majors. Using popular Hollywood movies as a vehicle of education, we have attempted to increase the awareness among students of the utility of mathematics, and to demonstrate to non-STEM students that an understanding of mathematical ideas is crucial to being an educated member of society.
This paper will review the way that topics were covered in a fall 2010 pilot project and the lessons learned.

Keywords: Hollywood, Quantitative Fluency, Science Literacy, Mathematical Modeling

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.47-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 747.779KB).

Costas John Efthimiou

Associate Professor, Department of Physics, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

Costas Efthimiou obtained his BS from the University of Athens and his PhD from Cornell University. After this, he spent an additional year at Cornell as a Lecturer teaching physics courses. He then accepted a research associate position at Tel Aviv University where he stayed for two years. He returned to the USA as a Visiting Scientist at the Math Department of Harvard University. He continued with a Visiting Scientist appointment at Cornell and Columbia Universities. In August 2000, he joined the Physics Department of UCF.

Barry J. Griffiths

Director of the Mathematics Lab, Department of Mathematics, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

Barry Griffiths obtained his bachelors degree from the University of Leicester in England before completing postgraduate degrees in mathematics and economics from the University of Florida and University of Central Florida respectively. In August 2002 he joined the Department of Mathematics at the University of Central Florida as Director of the Mathematics Lab.

Dan Maronde

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, FL, USA

Dan Maronde received his BS and PhD from the University of Central Florida. In August 2011, he joined the Department of Physical Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, as an Assistant Professor and supervisor of the department’s physics teaching labs.