Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) is a program sponsored by 14 North American Mathematical Sciences Institutes in conjunction with many international organizations and professional societies. A key mission of MPE is to increase the engagement of mathematics and mathematicians (researchers, teachers, students, and the public) with issues of planet Earth, and in particular creating a sustainable society and economic system. Encouraging mathematics teachers at all levels to create and use planet-related curriculum materials was among the strategies highlighted at a planning meeting for MPE held on March 9 - 11, 2011 at the American Institute of Mathematics in Palo Alto and attended by representatives from participating organizations, institutes, and societies. At the meeting, the representatives formed an MPE Curriculum Committee, co-chaired by Professors Mary Lou Zeeman of Bowdoin College and Eugene Fiorini of Rutgers University. A key curriculum-related activity identified at the planning meeting was the development of MPE-related modules for the undergraduate level, which instructors can bring into their mathematics classrooms highlighting mathematical topics associated with MPE. The main purpose of the workshop is to bring participants with a range of backgrounds together to write one-page modules, often called teasers, that will be used in undergraduate classrooms in a variety of courses. Each module will target a core mathematics class. It will introduce a specific planet Earth topic, challenge students to engage in a discussion about the topic, and present a content-specific mathematical application with practice problems. Possible projects and references for further study complete the one page module.
This workshop will not be organized in the usual way, with lectures, panels, etc. Instead, we are asking leaders in the mathematical sciences community and scientists working in substantive areas that are amenable to curriculum development in the mathematical sciences to prepare for the workshop by submitting possible topics for one-day modules, write a brief description of those topics including potential classes where it could be used, and construct an outline for a one-day module (participants to be chosen by invitation). It is expected that nine to twelve one-day modules will be produced. These modules will be made freely available on several high profile web sites such as the Climate Math Web Portal, the Institute for Computational Sustainability, DIMACS, and MPE 2013. A web site and information about the existence of these one-day modules will be widely distributed. Through the broader MPE program, faculty in the sciences, social sciences, mathematics, and computer science will be encouraged to use these modules to stimulate student interest in mathematics as it relates to the planet Earth.