Experiential or active learning is a powerful mechanism for enhancing student motivation and engagement. At one level it can demonstrate real-world applications of abstract theory, deepening and embedding understanding of it; at another it can represent realistic work-related learning. The mathematics programme at SHU is distinctive in the sector because in addition to developing subject-specific skills it focuses on developing real practical skills in applying mathematics, with graduates better prepared for the workplace. This presentation will describe one specific mathematical modelling activity in which students research mathematical algorithms to implement a variety of effects on a digital photograph. The mathematics involved can be very simple, such as using addition to brighten an image – or more advanced, requiring two dimensional calculus for sharpening an image. Students are very familiar with using spreadsheets, and therefore an Excel add-in has been developed which can take a digital image and import the individual pixel values into the worksheets of a workbook. Existing skills can be used to carry out the necessary effects; the add-in provides a mechanism for recompiling a jpeg image from the worksheets. Because an image can be compiled directly from the worksheets, this paves the way for more creative use to be made of mathematical skills in generating images from scratch. Students have found this to be a great way to explore their creative side – something rare in a mathematics programme. Examples of images created using mathematics in this way will be shown, including the development of movies generated by running successive images together. The experiences of a group of final year undergraduate students who have used the software will be described and some possible extensions and other applications explored.
Click to view presentation: 243 SHU_LTA_19June13_Digimages