Making an Outstanding Choice

by minton on January 30, 2019

Karin Saoub’s textbook A Tour Through Graph Theory was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine for 2018. Choice is the trade magazine for academic libraries, and Outstanding Academic Titles are “must haves” for academic libraries. Congratulations to Karin!

Karin’s book now joins a select list, representing about ten percent of the 6000 titles reviewed by Choice editors each year (most books do not make it to the review stage). Criteria for selection include overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, importance relative to other literature in the field, distinction as a first treatment of a given subject, originality of treatment, and importance in building undergraduate library collections.

Karin’s editor Bob Ross writes, “This is a particularly impressive award, I believe, because the book did not target an established course market. You envisioned a text at a level where students could learn to appreciate graph theory and mathematics without the prerequisites required for the upper level course. This then confirms your creative approach and insight into what instructors and students might access to develop a greater interest in mathematics early in the curriculum. This is an impressive accomplishment in the textbook market, which tends to be very conservative in mathematics. It is recognition of an outstanding teaching idea and its successful execution.”


RC Exhibits in Baltimore

by minton on January 25, 2019

Roanoke College had a strong presence at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore January 16-19. Professors Adam Childers, Dave Taylor, Hannah Robbins, and Roland Minton all gave talks. Maggie Rahmoeller completed a short course in the use of R in statistics. Hannah talked with various editors interested in her newly written linear algebra book. We all had quality time with friends and colleagues from around the country, and attended talks that gave us inspiration and new ideas.

A gathering ground at the Joint Meetings through the years has been the Exhibit Hall where mathematics publishers and vendors exhibit their wares. You can talk with representatives of the actuary societies, and Mathematica, and the NSA. You can buy a Klein bottle or earrings made from integrated circuits (ask Maggie or Hannah) or a t-shirt with the latest mathematics humor.

This year the Exhibit Hall also included a booth manned by Dave and Adam, where they talked to interested people about their phone app, Classroom Stats. This app, attractively priced at $0, takes clickers to the next statistical level, enabling quick and impromptu class surveys and data collection with immediate statistical analysis. Their talk on Classroom Stats was a big hit. Dave and Adam left the meeting with several great ideas to improve their product – some of which they had already implemented!

The Joint Meetings illustrate why it is important for faculty to get off campus. New ideas for Classroom Stats, Stat Crew, class assignments, teaching innovations such as mastery-based testing, and more all came from talking with colleagues. The Meetings enrich us and help spread the word about the energy and talents of Roanoke College faculty.


Fun With Physics and Life

by minton on December 11, 2018

I was saddened to learn that Dick Minnix died on November 28. Dick was a hero to me, and I suspect many others, and truly had a large positive effect on physics education.

I first met Dick in California at a large conference for community college math professors. Dick was there as a keynote speaker and I was there to give a much smaller talk. Which is to say that we were not of equal status. Nonetheless, Dick spotted my nametag, introduced himself and we had a great time chatting. I was very glad that my talk was well before his, because the man put on a show! You can see one of his bits – spinning a glass of water without spilling a drop – online from a Facebook post of Main Street Lexington titled “The ever-amazing Dick Minnix wowing the crowd at the Science Festival.” This shows Dick at 80 years young!

In California, one of his routines was based on mirrors and had him flying – you can see a very brief piece of this in the Roanoke College Medalist video for Rae Carpenter, at the 2:52 mark. It is wonderful! Minnix and Carpenter were both Roanoke College graduates who became physics professors at VMI, and their “Dick and Rae” shows entertained and inspired countless students and non-students. Their book Dick and Rae Physics Demo Workbook is a thick treasure trove of clever illustrations of physics principles. I bought the book after seeing Dick’s presentation of one of the projects that uses coffee filters to investigate the effects of air resistance. This idea was central to a very successful calculus lab we used at Roanoke. Who knows how many other great classroom experiences owe their existence to the innovative minds of Rae and Dick?

As a young mathematics teacher, I looked on one side and saw painful struggles with theoretical mathematics and then looked to another side and saw Dick Minnix flying and doing loops with water. It was clear which side was having more fun, and which side students preferred. More importantly, it was clear that students were learning physics concepts while having fun. I have tried, not always very successfully, to bring as much Minnix magic into my mathematics classroom as I could.

I’m sure I speak for many others when I say thanks to Dick Minnix for making it fun!



On Beyond RC

December 7, 2018

What happens when you graduate from Roanoke College? You might be surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond RC and start poking around. Five recent MCSP grads shared their graduate school journeys on Friday, November 9. Taylor Ferebee, David Matheny, Thomas Lux, Damian Ream, and Anderson Lidz have a wide range […]

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Physics SPS wins the 2018 Blake Lilly Prize.

December 7, 2018

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) at Roanoke College has won the 2018 Blake Lilly Prize for outstanding science public outreach and awareness. This prestigious national recognition is bestowed upon only select few colleges nation-wide, about 10 or so, each year. The award letter from SPS National Council states “Members of the SPS National Council […]

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Experiential Learning in Physics: A new partnership between RC-Physics and Integer Holdings Corp.

November 14, 2018

David Moreau, a senior physics major, spent his 2018 summer pursuing an internship at Integer Holding Corp, in Salem, VA. This is a new partnership for the Roanoke physics group. His mentor, Dr. Roger Dickenson, visited Roanoke College to give a talk on ‘Metals in Medical Devices’ on Nov 1st as a part of the […]

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Do Ghosts and Physics Overlap?

October 9, 2018

Back in 2009, the Pew Research Center did a survey to see how prevalent a belief in ghosts is in America. They found that about 29% of Americans said “they have felt in touch with someone who has died” and about 18% said “they have been in the presence of a ghost” (“Many Americans Mix […]

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The Number is 3

October 3, 2018

Number 3 : That is the number of female physicists who have won the Nobel prize in physics in its 117 year history. On Tuesday Oct 2nd,  Donna Strickland, currently an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo, Canada,  became the third female physicist to win the Nobel Prize for 2018. She was […]

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An MCSP Canon

October 3, 2018

Hannah plays upright bass, Rich plays lead guitar, Melody, rhythm beat, melody, rhythm beat, MCSP stars. MCSP faculty are active in a variety of ways, and music especially plays a large role in our interests. Hannah Robbins plays upright bass and sings in a band named Leftover Biscuits that plays “old-grass” music, a mix of […]

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Stat Crew Earns a 4.0

September 19, 2018

Stat Crew announced its fourth year of operation with a research forum in Massengill on September 12. Four students discussed their research projects, involving four different sports. Their research illustrates four sports analytics themes. Roland Minton, faculty foreman for the Stat Crew, foreshadowed the student presentations with an overview of data collection at the forefront […]

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