Algebra for Athletes?
Being a bibliophile, I am especially attracted to books with unusual titles. For example, consider Cameron Bauer's Algebra for Athletes, now in its second edition. My first thought....does that mean there is an algebra for nonathletes as well? Nonetheless, the book was a surprise when I purchased a copy.
The publisher (Nova Science) states that the book "capitalizes on the wealth of mathematical knowledge students already possess because of their familiarity with the scorekeeping and motion in sports. In this way, the book takes advanced concepts such as exponents, vector multiplication, and the unit circle to relate them to students everyday lives. While the book is meant to appeal to students who might not otherwise choose to study algebra, it employs highly challenging material, much of which is not taught until engineering school. Thus the book also provides a window to the professional world. Applications in accounting, aeronautical engineering, civil engineering and other fields are presented along with the sports examples." Sounds good, right?
Contrast this with the author's statement that the book was "written specifically for minority students" and that it is a "new approach to teaching mathematics." There is no mention of any use of the text in any classroom at any school...
The author, Cameron Bauer, is not a mathematics teacher as expected. Rather, he is a civil engineer for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. The Preface states: "Because of the author's orientation toward applied mathematics rather than math education, any comments and suggestions on the text would be welcome."
That is all I know about the author. However, it would be interesting to pursue further the "whys" that motivated his writing of this book, which clearly shows efforts to connect mathematics, sports, and realworld applications.
The book's chapters range from "Why Study Math" to "Weight Room Mechanics" to "Speed" to "Systems of Equations" to "Cyclical Motion" to "Vectors" to "Complex Numbers." Given our easy access to calculators, something unexpected are the appendices with tables of common logarithims and trigonometric functions to threedecimals places.
You are encouraged to explore sample content from the text at either the text's home page or Google Books.
Why do I say "encouraged to explore"? On the one hand, I doubt you will adopt this text for a standard algebra course. But, on the other hand, the book is a rich resource of application problems that are both useable and perhaps realistic to students....something math teachers need.
And, the sports aspect can be an attractive element. Consider these closing statements in the Chapter 1: "The athletic world just doesn't have good examples to explain mathematics, it is full of them. For example, the math used to calculate the average points per game is very similar to the math used to calculate the center of gravity of a football player or wrestler in a certain stance.....One thing should be clear about this book. The book makes no effort to make you a better athletedirectly. The book will, however, make you think better. Indirectly it will make you a better athlete." Those are big claims!
