Visiting Scholars

If you thought bubbles were for preschoolers, you missed the Math III class last month.
The past few weeks were a time for investigation and creativity with visiting scholars. An improvisational music group and a math teacher posed problems to students to foster creative problem solving.

“The Warp Trio,” said Gregory Haggard, director of the music program, “is a classical/ jazz/ experimental/ improvisational group that performed an enthralling concert, mixing everything from Duke Ellington to Hendrix to Bach to Take Me Out to the Ballgame! It was an inspiring night for the students.”

"I enjoyed the song Baseball very much,” said Eliza ’22, “because it was a unique twist on a classic tune that everyone knows. They built on this melody and grew it into something very beautiful, much like what we are doing in class, using the same chords to create unique music of our own."

In addition to performing internationally, the group of four musicians (which insists on calling itself a trio) teaches classes to all levels of music students. They gave masterclasses to the freshman music classes. The students learned about “improvisation, listening, and the narrative of imagination that goes into a musical piece,” said Haggard. Nathan ’22 said, "They taught me about getting creative with music and how listening to one another really helps."

A few days before the Warp Trio arrived on campus, math teacher Maria Hernandez visited. Ms. Hernandez advocates for using mathematical modeling problems to engage students in hands-on problem-solving. Thacher math teacher Theana Snyder saw Ms. Hernandez present at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference and suggested that the math department invite her to campus. Ms. Hernandez taught five classes and presented a masterclass for math and science teachers during her three-day visit.

The problem she posed to the Math III class involved finding the least amount of road required to connect four hypothetical towns. Students were able to confirm their answers by using bubbles in a plexiglass model, because “nature looks for the most efficient solution,” said Henry Wadsworth, math department chair.

The visit was designed to support the school-wide initiative to expand inquiry-based learning opportunities. Mr. Wadsworth’s department is compiling a repository of problems and projects for teachers to draw from for their curriculum, and Ms. Hernandez made several contributions to that resource.
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