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WhistlerAlley.com ...Thanks Paul

The web site for this week is special to me for multiple reasons. First, it has some good mathematics that is offered with heart-felt emotion. And second, the web site is constructed and maintained by one of my former students.

After working as a land-surveyor, Paul Kunkel came to my university to become a secondary mathematics teacher in Washington State. While at the University, he proved to be a very creative thinker and problem solver in my mathematics courses. Though I have heard from Paul only once since graduation, I have been able to follow him via Internet posts, especially those dealing with Geometer's SketchPad. Presently, Paul is working as a mathematics tutor in Hong Kong, is the author of three resource texts for Key Curriculum Press, and created the web site Whistler Alley Mathematics.

The website is designed for mathematics students and hobbyists...and I suppose mathematics teachers fits in that gamut somehow. Remembering Paul, I identify with his opening statements: "In my pursuit of a teaching career, I was told to justify the study of each concept by establishing its relevance to the students' lives. Sorry, but I still have trouble buying into that one. Fortunately, poetry and music are rarely put to that same test. As I glance at the list below, I must concede that it would be difficult to convert any of the lessons into food, shelter, or money. These are things that interested me, and now I understand them better. If there is a reward, it is the fact that every time I do this I get better at figuring things out."

So what can you find on Paul's web site:

  • Interesting Mathematical Lessons, with most of them involving GSP or Java files. The content ranges from special curves to Buffon Needle simulation to planimeters to surveying principles to sliding triangles to tangent circles to inversive geometry, etc.
  • Extended Resources such as a GSP Workshop, Sktechpad Gallery of his "mathematical art" work, and a Reference Text for elementary straightedge and compass constructions.
Final Note: I should add two things, First, I am pleased that Paul included a lesson on inversive geometry, a tool that he unexpectedly used to produce a creative solution to one of my problem challenges (I have not forgot that Paul, but you may have!). And second, I am not the one who told Paul to "justify the study of each concept by establishing its relevance to the students' lives."