Writing Activity

Historical Mathematicians Writing Project
Grades 5-12

Small student groups will use the Internet and other traditional sources to research historically significant mathematicians, write a paper, and creatively present research in class.

Prior Knowledge
Research skills
Paper Writing Skills
Word Processing Skills
Internet Site Location Skills

Student Project Guidelines

  • This in an integrated cooperative learning project for grades 5-12 which allows students to research through Internet sites and traditional methods a historically significant mathematician.
  • Students research the mathematician's personal background and upbringing, education, and their significant contribution to mathematics.
  • Students gain a clearer understanding of a great mathematical discovery and the person behind it.
  • The last component is a creative class presentation/lecture by each group.
Learning Advice:
  1. As groups work in class, monitor how the groups are working together.
  2. I suggest that a teacher schedule 1 or 2 short conferences with the groups to help keep the groups focused and on track.
  3. If computer access is limited, I suggest that teachers assign groups a block of time to begin.
  4. Teachers should also allow blocks of time in class for students to collaborate or go to the library.
Student Procedures: You must complete the following:
  1. Research Paper: 3-5 page research paper that covers these areas:
    1. Early Life
    2. Education and Mathematical work (including the effect on our world and thought)
    3. Later Life
    4. Title Page
    5. Bibliography of all sources used
    6. The paper must be typed in 12 point font, doubled spaced with 1 inch margins.
    7. The research paper may include summaries of stories read in books.
    8. All members of the group must participate and contribute in research and writing.

  2. Presentation: Each group will do a 7-10 minute presentation/lecture that will include:
    1. Visuals: posters, overhead transparencies, PowerPoint presentation
    2. Photo or drawing of the mathematician
    3. A table sign designed by the group on 11" by 17" piece of paper. You may use the topic's last name only if you so chose.
    4. Creativity plays a part in this presentation. Have fun with it. Use stories learned in research.

    Student Evaluation Form

    Your Name:

    Historical Mathematician:

    Names of Your Group Members:

    1. Do you feel everyone in your group did an equal share of work on the project?

    2. Please tell me which parts of the project each member contributed.

    3. How did you and your group work together?

    4. Was there a leader in the group?

    5. What role did you play in the group?

    6. What did you learn from working on this project either socially or academically?

    7. Do you learn when assigned a project like this? Why or Why not?


    Mathematicians: http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/
    Women: http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/women.htm
    Math Facts and Fun: http://www.windham.k12.me.us/thirdgrd/math.htm
    Math Quotations: http://math.furman.edu/~mwoodard/mquot.html
    Math Forum: http://forum.swarthmore.edu
    WomenII: http://www.cs.yale.edu/HTML/YALE/CS/HyPlans/tap/past-women.html
    Website relevant to the History of Mathematics: http://www.math.twsu.edu/faculty/richardson/
    Biographies of Women Mathematicians site is: http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/women.htm
    History of Mathematics Timeline http://aleph0.clarku.edu/~djoyce/mathhist/time.html

    List of Possible Names to Research

    • Agnesi, Maria
    • al'Khwarizmi, Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa
    • Banneker, Benjamin
    • Banneker, Benjamin again
    • Bolyai, Janos
    • Carver, George Washington
    • Carver, George Washington again
    • Cavalieri, Bonaventura
    • Drew, Charles Richard
    • du Chatelet, Gabrielle Emilie
    • Eratosthenes
    • Germain, Sophie
    • Granville, Evelyn Boyd
    • Hopper, Grace
    • Hypatia
    • Hypatia again
    • Just, Ernest
    • Just, Ernest again
    • Khayyam, Omar
    • Kovalevsky, Sonya
    • Kowa, Seki
    • Latimer, Lewis Howard
    • Lovelace, Ada Byron
    • Lovelace, Ada Byron again
    • Matzeliger, Jan Ernst
    • Morgan, Garrett
    • Noether, Emmy
    • Nunez, Pedro
    • Raman, Chandrasekhra Venkata
    • Ramanujan, Srinivasa
    • Russell, Bertrand
    • Shih-Chieh, Chu
    • Somerville, Mary Fairfax
    • Taniyama, Yutaka
    • Turing, Alan
    • Woods, Granville T.
    • Young, Grace Chisholm


    • Each group member will fill out a peer evaluation form that allows each student to critique the effort and production of their peers.
    • The teacher fills out an evaluation form on each student based on observations during class, comments from peers, research paper, and presentation.
    • This final evaluation will determine the student grade.


    Student Name:

    Historical Mathematician:

    Cooperative Group Work
    * = 50 points + = 35 points - = 20 points
    __ Student worked well with the other members in his group
    __Student evaluation by his/her peers
    __Student did an equal share of the work produced
    _____TOTAL POINTS (150 possible)

    This is the site of the original lesson that I used to create this shortened lesson.

Contributed by A. Motter