Fellow Profile: Michael Bishop
- G-TEAMS Cohort: 2010-11
- Graduate Program: Mathematics
- Teacher Partner: Lisette Eckman
- School: Tucson High Magnet School
- Grade level: 9-12
- Topics:Geometry, College Algebra
"Teaching is an opportunity to share our passion and expertise in mathematics. Sharing our struggles and our joys in understanding mathematics is a privilege for both us and our students."
Michael Bishop is a PhD student in Mathematics. His research interests are in mathematical physics, probability, and functional analysis. He focuses on Random Schrodinger Operators. These operators describe the behavior of quantum particles in random medium, like electrons traveling in a steel alloy.
Michael Bishop is currently working with Lisette Eckman at Tucson High Magnet School. Their partnership is based on Lisette Eckmann's experience and Michael Bishop's fresh set of eyes. The activities are generated in the frameworks of practical applications or interesting stories. For example, in one Geometry activity, students search for bodies in the desert in a CSI-style story using constructions using compass and straight edge. In another activity, College Algebra students work on functions, domains, and ranges through the business of fundraising by inspecting and applying demand, revenue, cost, and profit functions to find ideal prices for their fundraiser. The goal of activities is to spark curiosity while keeping applications in mind at all times.
Keeping the focus of high school students distracted by cell phones and math phobias is a full time job. Each lesson is dressed in some story or application to keep students' curiousity piqued. In College Algebra, this means bringing ideas like encryption/decryption, business, or physics to the forefront. Functions must be brought out from their numerical environment to help give students a deeper grasp of what a function is as an abstract concept. A function in a numerical sense could have a large domain, but in the context of a demand function of price, negative prices no longer seem reasonable. Then when we come back to functions on real numbers, they have a better understanding. Likewise, basic algebra skills need to be reinforced time and time again to make sure students stay sharp.
In Geometry, the compass and straightedge provide great hands-on activities. Students get to play with these ideas as they work through constructions. Map-making and navigation are a natural setting for applying constructions. Likewise, geometry provides a wonderful setting for problem-solving and logical thinking. Guiding students through proofs and watching them understand is exciting.