Conjecturing adds up to better learning, BGSU prof Gabriel Matney tells STEM teachers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News One may have assumed a talk entitled “The Power and Promise of Developing a Conjecturing Modality” would be a bit on the dry side. The speaker, Gabriel Matney, an associate professor of math education at Bowling Green State University, would advise that rather than assume one should make a conjecture that the talk could instead be engaging and enlightening for the 300 or so teachers and students of mathematics in attendance at his keynote address for the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence Symposium on STEM Teaching two weeks ago. “Rather than assuming that we know and acting on it,” he said. It’s better to engage in “conjecturing and testing those conjectures and see if they hold or not.” Could this talk be inspiring? Yes. Matney explained how he made a conjecture as a teenager in love. He was dating this girl, and he conjectured that even though he could barely afford a car for himself, he could one day get her the car of her dreams. So he asked her to describe her dream car. She detailed a purple, tricked-out Dodge Stealth. So 19 years later that girlfriend, now his wife, got that car. It did take a few years extra because it had to be specially painted purple. When delivered it was “an epic Valentine gift” born of early planning. Conjecturing, Matney said, as powerful teaching and life tool. Matney rooted his talk in his own life. He had the audience tackle problems that he had originally posed to his three daughters, now…

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