Exams then travel!

Last week was exam week. These are fairly traditional around here – some of the students even say it doesn’t quite feel like our school. I think spending a week taking exams is an important skill to have, so that’s totally OK.

But also, I like to include a super exciting group portion on the test. One of my classes was dealing with Bell numbers – you should glance at the Wikipedia page for a sense of the deep math behind those if that’s your thing. The formula for the nth number looks like this:


Cool, huh?

The nth Bell number counts the number of ways to partition a set of n things into groups. For example, the Bell number for 3 is 5 because you can split these 3 things 5 different ways:


Bell numbers can also count the number of rhyme schemes of a poem with n lines. So naturally I asked them to write 5 different 3-lined poems with different rhyme schemes. Such as:

I hope you know addition
Because it’s a good addition
To your math repertoire

One of the other classes had to use Newton’s Law of Cooling and logarithms to solve a murder mystery. An invisible dead body, separated from them by caution tape, lay in the corner of the room. They had to test its poison levels and model them according to exponential decay. Newton’s law requires the use of delicate thermometers and other equipment.


I think the amount of fun they were having approached the amount of fun I had making those. End behavior humor : )

Another class’ exam revolved around, among other things, the tetrahemihexahedron. Here’s a picture of my cat investigating one:


Unlike Olive’s, which was mainly the sniff test, the students’ investigation involved cutting out the net and folding it (harder than it seems!), and then re-creating that out of origami, and toothpicks and marshmallows.

I’m always impressed with how focused and collaborative the students are with these group portions. Group work probably won’t work as an all-the-time thing, but it can be super effective.

Oh! But the main reason I’m taking to the blog is that I’m leaving tomorrow morning. I’ll be co-leading a 2-ish-week senior experience travel component. It’s not math teaching, but it’s still teaching, so I’ll definitely post about it when I’m back home! See you in 2 weeks!


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