Probably the most important two experiences of my end-of-year were the Algebra 1 Data Analysis Round Tables and my Applied Math 3D Modeling Competition. Let's take them one at a time:
Over the past 2.5 months we have been working in class on analyzing data and making inferences based on graphs, tables, and lines. Each student had to determine two variables for which to collect data and then compare them to see if there was any strong correlation. We discussed strong, moderate, and weak associates as well as positive vs. negative linear relationships. The students (mostly) came out with a strong understanding of this work. It is truly amazing to listen to a student present in a small team about his or her work and feel confident in answering questions.
At the end of the unit we had the students gather in teams of 3-4 along with a teacher facilitator from the rest of our staff. We guided them through a process to understand who was to present and when as well as what questions they should be able to answer. Their final product - a poster - was used during the presentation to showcase their research. The feedback we received from staff was incredible. Not only did they share the fact that students truly understood their work, but they were also impressed at how organized we were. I really appreciate that feedback.
My Applied Math students have been working on crafting business plans and presentations based on a 3D model of an object they want to sell at the school. There were so many different designs - keychains, cup holders, iPhone stands - I was not sure which one would win in the end. They spent 2.5 months learning how to use the software options and then developing their final designs, writing the plans, critiquing each other, and practicing their presentations. I was more hands-off because they were in 11th and 12th grades and it was still successful.
The students presented in front of a group of five judges: our principal, a representative from Makerbot (the company that makes our 3D printer), a staffer from DonorsChoose (the non-profit that helped us get the 3D printer), a marketing employee, and my wife. They were all very impressed by the detail of most of the plans as well as the responses the students gave to their questions.
In the end, the iPhone stand won, and we realized it could be used for a variety of different purposes (tablets, books, etc). I am happy to report we are going to start printing shortly.