30. October 2020

Trail of the Month: The Thick Fir – Part 2

Today we present part 2 of our interview with Jens-Peter Reusswig about the Trail of the Month October (link to part 1). The math trail “Zur Dicken Tanne” was created during the MathCityMap seminar at the Goethe University in Frankfurt.


Please introduce a task of your trail in more detail.

I especially like the 8th task “Ene, mene, miste”. At this trail station there are different pieces of wood hanging in a frame. Although they differ in their composition, it is difficult to assign them to a suitable tree species without appropriate knowledge.

The task now is to find out how many pieces of wood come from beech trees and calculate the probability of randomly pointing to one. Fortunately, however, an information board hidden under a cover helps to identify the pieces of wood.

The counting rhyme in the title already gives a first intuition for the task. Furthermore, the integration of the forest teaching garden of the Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald (German Forest Conservation Society) makes use of the learning opportunities on site in the trail, which makes the connection between mathematics and ecology particularly clear once again.

How has the review process helped you to improve your tasks?

Through the peer review process during the in-depth seminar, the trail was subjected to an initial feasibility check. One of the seminar participants not only checked whether the tasks were comprehensible and solvable for others, but also whether the trail took into account the essential MCM criteria and whether the tasks could only be solved on site, for example.

In her feedback she drew my attention to misunderstandings, linguistic inaccuracies and alternative solution strategies. For example, during the conceptual design of the tasks it can happen that the view is too attached to the task object. In one case, for example, I eventually faded out a signpost on the task picture, which presented a danger of confusion with the information signs from the task. However, this eye-opening hint helped to prevent discussions about the sign meant and to avoid frustration at the station by a wrong result.

The feedback from the publishing process via the MCM web portal allowed me to do a final fine-tuning. The feedback from the MCM expert team helped me to further specify my tasks and solutions. For example, this enabled me to put the task notes in a more sensible order and gave me an idea of what makes a good MCM task.

Further comments on MCM?

I can recommend MCM to everyone who enjoys mathematics and everyone can contribute to making MCM even more interesting in the future. You don’t have to be afraid of the publishing process, because you will always receive appreciative feedback from the MCM experts.

Sharing the trails helps to increase the awareness of MCM and offers mathematics fans the opportunity to try out trails in their own environment and to gather ideas. Because one thing is clear: MCM lives from the participation and contributions of many other locally engaged MCM heroes.

Information about the trail:

Name: Trail to the “Thick Fir
Code: 362883
Location: 63579 Freigericht Somborn
Target group: from grade 9
Topic: Mathematics and Ecology

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