Category Archives: Courses

New Course of Studies Introduction

The new course of studies booklet was just printed. Here’s the new introduction to the Math Department’s section:

Mathematics is the language of the universe. It is everywhere, and every subject is permeated by mathematics. It is beautiful, logical, abstract, relevant, and practical. Furthermore, a background in mathematics can lead you just about anywhere. Math majors have chosen careers from law, medicine, computer science, and engineering to philosophy and the visual and performing arts. Increasingly, many more professions require knowledge of higher mathematics for full success.

The world of mathematics is full of breathtaking examples of elegant beauty, brought forth from the luminary minds of people such as Noether, Erdos, Newton, Escher, Turing, and Lovelace. The Williston Mathematics Department strives to expose all students to that beauty while also realizing that many, if not all, students will need mathematics for its practical applications. The students of today are entering a quantitative world that demands an understanding of our subject. Through their studies of mathematics and with the support of a dedicated faculty, Williston students at all levels build habits of mind that translate into the many other areas of life that require problem solving.

A defining characteristic of humanity is our curiosity, and through our study of mathematics we continue the perpetual journey of understanding our existence. Mathematics is the bridge between the arts and the sciences, and we believe that everyone can find joy in mathematics.

The primary goal of Williston’s Math Department is to help prepare students for college mathematics. The course sequence—Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II—teaches the foundation of mathematics that all students need. Once they have mastered the foundation, students can delve more deeply into mathematics through a variety of upper-level courses. While the content of these courses varies, the primary goal of each course is the same: to help students become more successful problem solvers.

In addition to different course options, students will encounter various tools and learning situations. Sometimes students will use computers to explore mathematics, or calculators to assist with graphing and computation. Students taking Geometry will participate in laboratories designed to provide time for extended work. At other times students will work in small groups to investigate a topic. All of these experiences encourage a flexible approach to mathematics.

Whether students dislike math or enjoy puzzle-thinking, have strong backgrounds or weak ones, they will find teachers dedicated to supporting their efforts to become better problem solvers. Each course offers the opportunity to review basic skills and to master the core knowledge of the subject. Students are challenged to move beyond memorized rules to discover the source of rules, to examine why they work, and to theorize about how they are used to solve problems.

As Roger Bacon proclaims, mathematics is a gateway. Like most gates it must be unlocked; and one cannot be pushed through it but must enter with one’s own effort.

Microcontrollers and DC Circuits

TedHere’s some great info put together by Mr. Matthias, the teacher who will be leading the charge in the classroom next year for one of Williston’s brand new courses, Microcontrollers and DC Circuits.

1. What topics will this class be covering?
The basic principles of microcontroller design and simple DC electrical circuits will be introduced. Topics of voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, induction, Ohm’s Law, and breadboard prototyping will be covered. In addition, students will use their Java/C++ programming knowledge to write programs for the Arduino microprocessor and use these programs to control the behavior of their DC circuits. Online circuit design software will also help students test and document circuit designs before building them.

2. How is this class different from the other classes taught at Williston?
The two major areas of knowledge presented in this course are computer programming an direct current electricity. Classes already exist for students to learn computer programming in the Math Department (e.g.; Engineering & Robotics, Advanced Programming and AP Computer Science, Video Game Design) and the Science Department offers topics in electricity (e.g.; AP Physics 2, AP Physics C). What makes the Microcontrollers and DC Circuits course unique is the way it integrates topics from BOTH departments into a single, hands-on experience. The topics presented in Microcontrollers and DC Circuits form the basics of a STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.

3. Why do you think it is an important class to offer?
Microcontrollers and DC Circuits expands the School’s STEM offerings for students interested in studying electronics, computer engineering, or electrical engineering at the college/university level. It also presents topics that can be somewhat abstract (programming theory, current/voltage/resistance, etc.) and makes them concrete through experimentation in a hands-on experience.

4. Why should students take this class? What type of student do you think this class will appeal to?
Certainly, any student who has an interest in computer programming or engineering will find that this course will augment their level of preparation for studying engineering at the college/university level. In addition, a student who has had taken the computer programming classes at Williston will be able to use and expand their programming knowledge to build and program DC circuits that perform many different functions.

5. What prerequisites are required for a student to take this class?
Prospective students must have competed both Engineering & Robotics I and II, or Advanced Programming in Java and receive approval from the Math Department.

6. Is there anything else students should know or other things about this class you would like students considering this class to know?
Microcontrollers and DC Circuits is designed for knowledge mastery through a fun, engaging and experiment-based experience. Student will each have their own microcontroller (Arduino), a prototyping “breadboard”, and a kit of electrical components. In addition, software to program the Arduino will be installed on the students’ Surface.

Also, for those students who anticipate taking AP Physics 2 or AP Physics C, Microcontrollers and DC Circuits will prepare them in advance for the topics in the Electricity unit of both courses.

7. Have you taught any other similar topics before? If not, has there been/ do you anticipate there being a learning curve for you as a teacher when preparing the material?
I have taught the skills necessary for the computer programming aspect of Microcontrollers and DC Circuits. I have also been an amateur electronics hobbyist for the last 52 years. I will be blending my teaching experience in computer programming with my knowledge of DC electronics, and will frame both in a curriculum I am developing with the generous help awarded to me by a Williston Summer Grant. As part of the grant, I will be attending a week-long workshop for educators taught by secondary school electronics curriculum developers.