"Numb3rs" is about an FBI agent who
recruits his mathematical genius brother to help the government
solve challenging crimes. All the math used in the program is based
on real FBI cases.
Lott's three-member team designs the mathematical
problems derived from "Numb3rs." The team includes Lott;
Terry Souhrada, a retired UM faculty member who still works on projects
for the UM math department; and Beth Glassman, a high school teacher
from Texas. They are assisted by Karen Longhart, a teacher at Flathead
Valley Community College in Kalispell, who acts as a liaison among
the council, Texas Instruments and CBS.
"Karen worked here with me for one year
in the early 1990s," Lott said. "We worked on the SIMMS
project - the Systemic Initiative for Montana Mathematical Science.
This is a whole high school curriculum, so we aren't exactly novices
at writing for kids."
Lott said three teams nationally are designing
"Numb3rs" content for the Web site. The other two teams
are based in Maryland and Texas. Additional mathematical advisers
are at the University of Minnesota and at Williams College.
"I don't think any of us knew what we were
getting into," Lott says. "This medium is stressful. It
winds up taking up a lot of nights. But we are obligated for the
next year, and it's exciting. We do get a small stipend, but we
figure it comes out to something like $10 per hour."
But he says the work is its own reward. For
the "Assassin" episode, his group created an exercise
in which students break secret codes.
Lott said he got hooked on "Numb3rs"
last season. "I thought, 'This is fun. NCTM ought to do something
with it,'" he said, "and here we are."