Day 146: Christie, 12th Grader

[ By on May 22, 2013 ]

Today I got my first taste of multi-variable calculus. Last week, my math teacher, Mr. Evans, announced that we would be doing a final project. I immediately turned to my friend, and suggested that we teach ourselves how to integrate a multi-variable expression and then teach the rest of the class. After some research, we had mastered the mechanics of multi-variable integration, but wanted to know if there were any real-world applications we could explore.

In order to complete this feat, we enlisted the help of our physics teacher, Mr. Saunders. During a meeting today, he quickly built a problem on the board that combined physics and calculus. We started just looking at the volume of 3-D objects with curved surfaces. But before we knew it, we were finding the total charge of a parabolic surface that extended in the x and y direction, where the charge per unit volume varied as a function of x and y. As my friend and I discussed strategy, tested our theories, and laughed at silly mistakes, Mr. Saunders provided questions, guiding us toward the answer. Our meeting turned into a mini college level class.

From there, our discussion turned to pedagogy. We did not want our presentation to become a how-to. How could we instill an intuitive sense of what a multivariable integral is? Perhaps we could dice up a melon in class to demonstrate the metaphorical “slices” used in integration.

This is what I will miss most about Riverdale. A simple project became an interdisciplinary collaboration between students and faculty. I truly believe that other high schools would have a hard time matching our students and faculty, who are so dedicated and invested in learning for learning’s sake.

Christie is a senior interested in science and mathematics. Outside of Academics, she was Co-Editor in Chief of the Riverdale Review and loves to ice skate and take photos.

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