Giving math meaning

Why do we need to know this? This is the age-old question teachers receive no matter what concepts are being taught. However, a new class at MV is changing the way students view the real-world applications of what they’re being tested on.

    Algebra 2 in the 21st Century first appeared on the list of schedule possibilities at the end of last year. The fancy, futuristic name intrigued many students bored by the regular math lessons they’d been receiving all their lives.

    “I didn’t want to be bored in regular Algebra 2, and I wanted to add a little spice,” sophomore Jack Absher said.

    The “spice” of the class, or rather, what makes it so different from regular algebra, is the one day a week dedicated to computer programming. Teacher Mr. Andrzejewski assigns “scratch” assignments, an online program developed by MIT, that helps students apply what they’ve learned that week into something concrete.

    For example, one of the first assignments was figuring out how to make a maze game using the online program. Other types of “21st century” applications include taking the math lesson the class has been working on and learning how to write a program that, say, graphs a function, in order to see how the problems in the book translate into something visible on a computer screen.

    “Students will not get exposure to programming in the traditional algebra 2 class,” Mr. Andrzejewski said. “On the math side, the students do a lot of exploration into mathematical patterns, then develop their own ‘rule’ or ‘property’ from their observations.  I think this is very effective way to learn and experience math.”

    The class was added by the district this year at 3 high schools–Dougherty Valley, San Ramon and Monte Vista.  The purpose was to give  students who had an interest in engineering and collaboration the chance to experience a math class that incorporated technology.

    “Not just using technology, but we wanted students to experience creating technology,” Mr. Andrzejewski said.

    Sound intimidating? Students interested in taking this class next year should remember that this class is harder than regular algebra 2 due to the programming element, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re interested in computer science or math itself.

    “The type of person I would say that should take this class is someone who really wants a challenge and finds regular math too easy,” sophomore Camille Thoms said.

    So if you’re bored in geometry, consider taking this new-approach-to-math class next year. You just may find that learning math isn’t so pointless after all.