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April 04, 2012

Alumna Uses Music to Teach Math Transformations

In her recent presentation at Youngstown State University, alumna Emma Stevens '11 proved that math and music can be a great teaching tool for young adults.

Twinkle Condensed Tune GraphAt the Youngstown State Mathematics Conference on February 25, Stevens presented her senior research project, in which she discovered a new method of teaching students about the transformation of mathematical functions. The new method involved translating a song into a graphed linear function (Stevens used "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for her research), then altering the function on the graph with various shifts, translations, reflections, stretches and compressions. Students could clearly see the physical change to the music, and Stevens then reverted the altered function back into music so that students could also hear the disfigurement of the well-known song, and hopefully understand what the transformation's effect was on the function.

Stevens, a double-major in mathematics and adolescent/young adult education (Grades 7-12), was helped and guided on her studies by Betty Clifford, assistant professor of mathematics and education, and Dr. Tabrina Smith, assistant professor of mathematics. Her presentation also gained the interest of a professor at John Carroll University, who critiqued and made suggestions for her presentation, which she hopes to present next at the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in October. Her proposal to speak at the October event is currently being reviewed by the Conference Committee, and a decision should be made soon; please keep reading "The View" for more information on Stevens' story. Good luck, Emma!
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