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Canadian Mathematical Society
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Title of Project: Enrichment in Number Theory and Encryption

Year of Competition: 1999 and 2000

Grant amount: $5000 + $10,000

Project Duration: Multi-Year

Type of Report: Final

Period Covered: May, 2000 to September 2002

Description of Activity:
The activity funded by the Endowment Grants Competition was to develop modules on number theory and encryption as enrichment material for children in the 11-15 year range. The modules were to be web-based and a piloting of the resulting materials and activities was a part of the original proposal. The materials were developed over the 2000, 2001 and 2002 summers. As the project evolved, it became clear that the most natural arrangement was into one continuous course that takes the user through the basic number theory necessary to understand the principles of public key encryption and the RSA algorithm.

As of October 1, 2002, the vast majority of the course is complete and it is being tested by Lisa Hodson with her grade 9 advanced mathematics class at Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon. Once testing is complete and the feedback used to revise/improve the materials, the head office of the Canadian Mathemtical Society will be contacted so that a link from the CMS website can be provided to the course. You are welcome to explore the test version of the materials at http://math.usask.ca/encryption/

Assessment of Effectiveness:
This project helped support a number of undergraduate students by way of summer jobs. These students were employed to build the web pages and java applets through which the course material is delivered. A local school math teacher, Lisa Hodson, became involved and shared much of the writing - mainly to bring the writing to a level appropriate for the age range we were targetting. Some of the funding was used to buy out part of her time from her teaching job, but she devoted much more time to the project than we paid for.

Ms. Hodson's effectiveness as a teacher has been enhanced by this experience and the several summer students had both their mathematics experiences and their programming skills expanded.

It remains to be seen how effective the course will be in introducing basic number theory into the thinking of the target group as the course is not yet open to the general public.

We expect that providing a link from the CMS will lead to heavy use by the target group of bright teenagers, but there is already considerable interest from university faculty in using the materials as a resource for their number theory or encryption courses. (It seems that some search engines have been able to locate the development version of our course.)

We made an unsuccessful application to PromoScience for a vastly expanded version of the concept of enrichment materials. However, locally we obtained considerable in-kind support from the University of Saskatchewan and interested individuals. Otherwise, it would not have been possible to build such a course on the budget we had.

On October 17, Keith Taylor is designated as a keynote speaker at the NCTM regional meeting in Regina. The title of the presentation is "Toward a universally accessible enrichment program". The centre piece of the presentation will be a demonstration of this course.

Future Plans (if any):
The course will be revised based on the feedback from the pilot run. When it is ready, we will place a request with the CMS that a link be provided, at the appropriate location, in the CMS website. This course will be used to demonstrate the concept of using the internet to deliver quality enrichment materials widely to society.

Financial:

Income: 
CMS Endowment Grant$15,000.00
Dean's Discretionary Fund$766.43
TOTAL INCOME$15,766.43

Expenses:

 
Undergraduate students salaries$9,720.64
Salary for Lisa Hodson, teacher$5,002.40
Benefits$1,042.59
Printing.80
TOTAL EXPENSES$15,766.43

There are no unused funds

Contact Name: Keith Taylor

[October 6, 2002]


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