I am in Exeter, New Hampshire now, attending The Anja S. Greer Conference on Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Phillips Exeter Academy. It runs from Sunday through Friday, and it is a math teacher’s dream.
First, the Exeter Academy campus is absolutely beautiful, as you can see from the pictures below:
Second, the courses offered are top-notch. Every participant signs up for two regular classes, and then you fill in the day’s open slots with one-time “Conference Within a Conference” seminars. The regular classes I am taking are “A Problem-Based Approach to Trigonometry”, and “The How-Tos of Project-Based Learning”. Both fit my goal for the 2011/2012 school year to increase the number of student-centered learning activities in my courses at Harpeth Hall. More on them in a later post.
Every evening there is a presentation by a mathematician on an interesting topic. Sunday’s presentation was by Frank Morgan of Williams College, about how one of his students’ projects was to calculate the optimal path a baserunner should take around a baseball diamond. It garnered lots of publicity and generated further research. He also showcased some of his current students, and their work in tilings.
Last night’s speaker was David Kung of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, on “How Math Made Modern Music Irrational”. He is a violinist as well as a math professor, and his talk delved into how tunings have evolved over the centuries.
The food is unbelievable good, but the best aspect for me is the exchange of ideas that occurs all day long between math teachers.
Update: Our final featured speaker was Nils Ahbel, whose topic was “Reflections on a 119 Year-Old Curriculum”. The gist of it was that 119 years ago, a group 10 prominent educators recommended that the U.S. math curriculum should be a sequence of courses that led up to calculus, which is pretty much what we have now. The problem is, a very small percentage of high school students end up taking calculus, so Nils argued for a more relevant math curriculum that incorporated much more statistics, and real-world data. You can view his Prezi for the presentation here (it’s very impressive).