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From 1999-2002, Making Mathematics middle and high school students, teachers, and professional mathematicians collaborated via the Internet on open-ended mathematics research projects. Our students ranged in age from 8 to 18, and they hailed from all over the world—from Istanbul, Italy, the Fiji Islands, the United States, and many other countries. They worked on projects individually or as part of their mathematics classes, and they produced impressive results. They tackled mathematics projects in number theory, advanced geometry, combinatorics, calculus, and probability as well as mathematical disciplines not often taught in high school (for a list of projects and student reports, see www2.edc.org/makingmath/mathproj.asp). Students with all kinds of mathematics backgrounds and abilities were welcome to participate.

Making Mathematics projects are extended, open-ended investigations in which students actively defined their goals and methods. Typically, students worked on one project for an hour or more a week over several months. During this period, they also communicated via electronic mail with a professional mathematician who mentored their work. Making Mathematics mentors were graduate students in mathematics or professional mathematicians who worked in industry or academia. Mentors submitted references before they were accepted into Making Mathematics. They also participated in an online training program that allowed Making Mathematics staff to get to know them before they were connected with students.

Making Mathematics was intended to provide a kind of mathematical learning experience that most children will never encounter in schools. Our projects inspired students to generate ideas, discover patterns, pose questions, develop conjectures, and build proofs of mathematical claims. Students got a chance to practice basic skills in the service of pursuing a larger, more interesting question. They learned that mathematics is not so much a body of facts to be memorized as a creative, growing research discipline to which they could contribute. And they also got a chance to communicate with real mathematicians—to see what they do everyday, how they chose their careers, and what they love about the mathematical discipline they serve.

We took special precautions to keep children safe as they communicated with mentors over the Internet. Besides screening and training all mentors, we also monitored all correspondence. We encouraged children, parents, and mentors to contact us at any time.

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