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Dr. Henry O. Pollak Making Math Trails

Dr. Henry O. Pollak will receive NCTM's Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual NCTM meeting in San Diego. In honor of Dr. Pollak's achievement and distinction, COMAP has decided to make the book, "Math Trails" which he co-authored available as a free download, Congratulations to Henry from all of us at COMAP!! Well deserved.


A mathematics trail is a walk to discover mathematics. A math trail can be almost anywhere—a neighborhood, a business district or shopping mall, a park, a zoo, a library, even a government building. The math trail map or guide points to places where walkers formulate, discuss, and solve interesting mathematical problems. Anyone can walk a math trail alone, with the family, or with another group. Walkers cooperate along the trail as they talk about the problems. There’s no competition or grading. At the end of the math trail they have the pleasure of having walked the trail and of having done some interesting mathematics. Everyone, no matter what age, gets an “I Walked the Math Trail” button to wear. This book is a guide to blazing a math trail. We’ll review the history of math trails and discuss their attributes. We’ll also discuss practical issues of organization and logistics in setting up and maintaining a math trail. We’ll discuss mathematical issues in choosing and describing problems and tasks along a trail. And we’ll also describe a variety of specific examples of trails and of problems.

After a rather pure education in mathematics, Henry Pollak spent the major part of his career at Bell Laboratories, including 22 years as Director of Mathematics and Statistics Research. At the same time, a growing interest in mathematics education led to his involvement in the Mathematical Association of America, and in a large variety of projects, from the School Mathematics Study Group to Mathematics: Modeling Our World. A recurring theme in much of his work is the need to wear the two hats of mathematics in the real world and mathematics education on the same head. Dr. Pollak has been a Visiting Professor at Teachers College of Columbia University since 1987.

Click here to download your complimentary copy of Math Trails