Looking at the enormous number of choices within the program for ICME 5 it was daunting to try and choose Areas, Themes, and Topics which would be the most interesting and useful to attend. As with most participants I made some excellent choices and some disappointing ones. On the whole, however, the positive impressions far outnumbered the negative ones. As a person involved with first and second year university mathematics courses I decided to concentrate on some sessions which possibly could help improve my teaching and involvement with students. Particularly useful in this regard were sessions on the teaching of statistics. Here, however, I want to concentrate on several aspects of modelling which arose in the Theme Group on "Applications and Modelling".
The Theme Group was organized by David Lee of the South Australian Institute of Technology, Dick Lesh from the United States, and Mogens Niss from Denmark. In the four sessions, discussions were held with participants split first into groups by educational level of involvement, second into groups by interest (e.g., purpose, curriculum issues, psychological research, resources), third into the intersection of the first two, and fourth back into educational level. This served to mix people and allow for discussion in small groups. Not always did this lead to substantive conclusions, but just listening to people from other parts of the world with their problems and/or solutions added to the experience of others. In the groups I attended there were people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Hong Kong. The human interest side came through on several occasions. I recall one of the groups being spellbound as a woman, who was tiny in stature but full of energy, described the plight of teachers in the state of Mississippi in the U.S.A.