On Feb. 23, 2011, a visitor downloaded the 3 millionth mathematics problem set from [email protected] Since 2004, this unique NASA education resource, developed by astronomer Sten Odenwald, has offered hundreds of unique mathematics problems to teachers, students and the general public.
"The math problems cover everything from black holes and space weather to the search for life on other planets," said Odenwald of Adnet Systems Inc., who develops these problem sets at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "I try to interest students in the mathematics curriculum by including current space science discoveries – kids really enjoy space," he said.
The math problems are often developed to coincide with breaking NASA news. They are available online, either individually or in specialized booklets each covering different topics like "Black Hole Math" and "Remote Sensing Math." A current math problem on the site focuses on the recent major earthquake in Japan and is titled, "Estimating the Speed of a Tsunami."
"Sten's math problems are really great because he tailors them to current NASA events," said Todd Toth of the Office of Education – Space Science Liaison at NASA Goddard. "Students like the hook, that is the current science topic, and then the math doesn't seem like math."
[email protected] is funded through education grants from the Science Mission Directorate. It contributes to NASA's education goal of increasing awareness and participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies by providing mathematics resources for various science workshops and other education activities.