Dr. Sarah's Classroom Activities on Hypatia

I am teaching Women and Minorities in Mathematics: A Course with Significant Mathematical Content. I am not a math historian - I am a geometer by training. Please send comments or suggestions for improvement to greenwaldsj@appstate.edu.

Day 1 on Hypatia

Intro to Hypatia - an overview of her life and work by reading the entry on Hypatia from Grinstein's Women of Mathematics. Hypatia's work on Ptolemy's Almagest.



Day 2 on Hypatia

Discuss errors in Osen's Women in Mathematics entry on Hypatia, Hypatia's work on Diophantus' Arithmetica, and Hypatia's work on Apollonius' Conics, discuss classroom worksheets on Hypatia (Famous Problems and Their Mathematicians by Johnson, p. 41-42, Multicultural Science and Math Connections by Lumpkin, p. 146- 149, Math Equals by Perl, p. 9-26).



Day 3 on Hypatia

Go over Knorr's case that Hypatia worked on Archimedes, and go over the proof of Archimedes dimension of the circle. Discuss Dr. Sarah's worksheet (first draft) on Hypatia's possible work on Archimedes dimension of the circle. For homework, students are to do the worksheet and give suggestions for improvement.



Day 4 on Hypatia

WebCT quiz 2 on Hypatia's mathematics and Mentoring poster. Collect Hypatia worksheet (first draft - which has errors in it) by Dr. Sarah.
Math Historian Edith Prentice Mendez' suggestions for improvement of the worksheet
I think the "translated works" is misleading. To my knowledge, she worked only in Greek, and the addition of exercises is not authenticated. Mary Ellen Waithe in "A History of Women Philosophers", vol 1, came up with that. I think it would be more accurate to say that Hypatia developed commentaries on older works, probably of Ptolemy, Diophantus, and Apollonius. in place of Hypatia >translated works, added exercises"
I'd give "Textual Studies" a citation and not give much credit to the Agnes Scott site, though the author appears to have checked a number of sources. I only skimmed this, but the stories are written by undergraduates and have very mixed reliability.
In response to Dr. Sarah's query:
My understanding is that Wilbur found the sexigesimal computation that he attributes to Hypatia in Ptolemy's book III, and then goes to other sources (such as the medieval Arabic version of Dimension of the Circle) and attributes them to Hypatia after seeing stylistic similarities.
Dr. Prentice Mendez wrote:
I think this is accurate--also based on the reputation Hypatia had for her teaching and style, a reputation transmitted by extant letters by her student Synesius.
Student suggestions for improvement of worksheet: typos and comments for clarity, more pictures, more space to write, more guided help on the proof, material was over the student's head / too hard
Student positive comments: (which weren't asked for)
This worksheet was helpful in allowing me to apply what I learned in class - it gave me a better understanding. pictures were helpful, as was the start of the proof, I liked the worksheet.



Day 5 on Hypatia

Discuss student and math historian Edith Prentice Mendez' suggestions for improvement of the worksheet (see Day 4). Discuss which suggestions where followed, which were not, and why. Go over Dr. Sarah's final version of the Hypatia worksheet, Microsoft Word 98 version and solutions.