Fellow Profile: Qiyam Tung

Qiyam Tung
  • G-TEAMS Cohort: 2010-11
  • Graduate Program: Computer Science
  • Teacher Partner: Michael Herzog
  • School: St. Gregory Preparatory School
  • Grade level: 9-10
  • Topics: Algebra 2/Trigonometry, Geometry

"Through technology and programming, students can model real-world phenomena and will be able to develop a deeper appreciation of mathematics."

Research Interests

Qiyam is a computer science graduate student. His research interests are in the deveopment of e-learning and computer vision.

More specifically, he is involved in the SLIC (Semantically Linked Instructional Content) project, which enhances the usability of watching lecture videos. His contributions include magnifying important segments in a video lecture when and where relevant.

Classroom Activities

Qiyam is currently working with Michael Herzog at St. Gregory College Preparatory School. Because Michael has a background in electrical engineering and Qiyam is a computer scientist, they have worked together this year to create a technologically-themed math classroom. This is aided by the fact that St. Gregory has a one-laptop-per-child policy, allowing them to do research in class and use the tools on the Internet.

The classroom activities that they have done include how mathematics describes the rules of a video game world. These include analyzing how hit-detection works in a video game or how a computer may use lines and inequalities to do classification of data. Furthermore, in computer science, binary search is described as having a logarithmic search time. Qiyam made the students discover this by themselves through an activity where they attempted to write down an algorithm that they naturally use to search through a phone book. More recently, Qiyam has begun teaching them basic Python commands so that they can learn how to program and how to use mathematics for their own purposes.

Lessons Learned

"Practicality" is perhaps one of the greatest factors in motivating students. Qiyam quickly learned that pondering aloud about the implications of theorems and laws tends to have a sleep-inducing effect on the students, and quite a strong one. Students do not yet have the maturity to appreciate the beauty of the language of mathematics. Instead, they tend to pay attention when it seems like the topic has a direct role in their lives, such as in the technology they use. Through technology and programming, students can model real-world phenomena and will be able to develop a deeper appreciation of mathematics.

While students do enjoy watching a presentation on how technology and mathematics are linked, they get a better understanding by doing problems that motivate them to use mathematical concepts. For example, students memorize that parabolas are the general shape of quadratic equations, but they do not understand the significance of what the shape means. The challenge is to convert this memorization of arbitrary facts into the ability to decipher and interpret the meaning of the equations. Qiyam has had the most success in this regard when he showed the students a video game of Mario (from the video game Super Mario Bros.) and had them determine whether linear models or quadratics models would be a better for modeling Mario's jump. While it is not practical to give a real-world example for every law that exists in their textbook, by working on real-world problems, they gain a better understanding of the power and knowledge that they are being taught.

Teaching Materials