All our upper grades math classes engaged in fieldwork throughout the city, interacting with professionals who use data in real world contexts and discussing important topics connected with mathematics including the dynamics of design and persistence in a field with few minorities and women.
In Algebra, students conducted fieldwork around two essential questions: “How do organizations find and represent important data?” and “How can data be used to help the world around us?” Students learned about data firsthand from different non-profits and companies across the city. They heard from professionals and experts about how data is used and analyzed within these companies and then came back to school to watch a documentary about data’s use in the world. Our fieldwork sites included Nielsen (media insight firm), Maslansky + Partners (advertising firm), Tapad (marketing technology firm), NY Times (media company), and Center for New York City Affairs (an applied policy research institute). The fieldwork was an introduction to data analysis as a springboard for what students will be doing in the current algebra unit. Students asked the experts why their organization collected data, what types of data, how the data is collected, how the data is visually represented, and how the data analysis helps clients. Back at school, students identified connections between their fieldwork site and classwork and their lives as New Yorkers. Then students discussed Why do you think rulers/leaders want to collect statistics?
In PreCalculus, students visited professionals in math related careers. Students first visited KPMG (a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services) where our students were hosted by accountant Alfredo Gonzalez (Brooklyn Collaborative graduate, Class of 2009). Then in the afternoon, they visited the City Comptroller’s Office.
In Algebra 2, students were introduced to STEAM careers through a three day intensive that culminated in going out into the field to do design research. During today’s ET, students visited a museum (either Museum of Art and Design or Museum of Modern Art) and Central Park, focusing on the essential question: “What things in the built environment make me curious and inspire wonder?” Students documented their experiences through qualitative research including sketching and written observations. Students designed an ideal park and museum experience with users in mind, after asking open questions to users in those spaces about how and why they use the place.
CUNY MATH AND CALCULUS
In CUNY Math and Calculus, students discussed and watched the film “Hidden Figures.” The movie portrays Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, black female mathematicians who played an integral part in NASA’s space-race successes, but their collective contribution was largely left out of the history books. First, students simulated the issues that NASA faced in the movie by breaking into groups representing the astronauts and “Ground Control” and playing some interactive games. Then students watched the film. Afterwards, students discussed the challenges these women faced in their careers as intersectional minorities, and how they persisted regardless of the obstacles they faced. Students discussed “What drives people to persist when faced with obstacles?” and “What can I learn from how these women persisted in their careers despite the challenges they faced?”
In Geometry, students applied their understanding of trigonometric ratios to find the heights of famous buildings in midtown Manhattan. Students made their calculations using just simple clinometers and tape measures. Students also read about the history of the building in the city. Buildings measured by students included the Bank Of America Building, New York Times Building, and the AXA Equitable Center. Then they watched the documentary Big Bigger Biggest to learn more about how geometry is used in architecture and engineering designs of skyscrapers around the world.