Brings U.Va. Math Class To High School
November 5, 2002--
Most people probably have never heard of the method of Lagrange
multipliers, but nine Albemarle High School students near Charlottesville,
Va.were frantically waving to their University of Virginia professor
to ask if they could use the short-cut calculating method on their
next calculus test.
mathematics professor John Faulkner couldn't hear his high school
students -- he had turned off the audio to their classroom at the
end of his lecture -- but he saw on the video monitor at the back
of his classroom that they were trying to get his attention. He
turned the audio on and they asked their question.
he said, "you can use the Lagrange Multipliers method."
the students said cheering. "Sweet!"
are no ordinary high school students, and this is no ordinary high
school class. In fact, it's a college class, Calculus III, taught
by Faulkner to his 33 U.Va. students on Grounds, and broadcast live
three times per week to nine highly achieving students at Albemarle
students had completed all of the calculus classes at the high school,
and they came to their senior year saying, 'what's next?',"
said Albemarle High School math teacher and department chair Carla
Hunt. "We didn't have an answer until this class was arranged
answer came from Steve Macko, U.Va. professor of environmental sciences,
and father of one of the students in Hunt's Albemarle class. Macko
and others have used teleconferencing technology -- in collaboration
with U.Va.'s Telemedicine program -- to broadcast U.Va. classes
to students at universities in southern Africa. Knowing that his
son Nikolas would have a big block of his school day empty without
a math class, Macko got the idea to use teleducation technologies
to bring Faulkner's class to Albemarle.
tried to get Monticello High School involved with this too, but
there was a scheduling conflict," Macko said. "But we
do have the capability to broadcast classes to three or four sites
off grounds. This is something we'd like to try in the future."
Telemedicine program visually links health system faculty and providers
with hospitals and clinics around Virginia. It is a natural fit
to use the same technology to broadcast U.Va. classes to school
systems. But one big technical glitch came up for the Albemarle
class. The high school did not have enough bandwidth on its Internet
connection to accept a live class. Macko and Eugene Sullivan, director
of Telemedicine, made a few phone calls. Sprint donated high-speed
phone lines to the high school with monthly service. Publisher Brooks-Cole
provided textbooks to Albemarle teachers and students, at the request
of U.Va. math lecturer Daria Giffen.
things get done through the help, cooperation and enthusiasm of
a lot of people," Macko said.
far the class is a success.
is the best math class ever," said Albemarle student Igor Rapinchuk.
"No offense, Mrs. Hunt," he said, looking at his teacher.
are highly motivated students," Hunt said. "They love
math."Tiffany Shih, an Albemarle student, said she is enjoying
the "college experience" and the one-on-one help she and
the other students get from Richelle Dietz, Faulkner's teaching
assistant and a U.Va. student teacher in Hunt's class. "This
class is much more fast-paced and challenging" than a high
school class, Shih said.
said he wishes his sons had an opportunity to take a class like
this when they were in high school. "These Albemarle students
are roughly comparable in math ability to U.Va. students,"
he said. "There is a real need for this kind of opportunity
to bring the class to them."
said one disadvantage of a teleducation course is that students
at the high school do not have easy access to his office hours.
And he's also noticed that the Albemarle students are somewhat reluctant
to ask questions during class broadcasts.
did ask questions once when I visited them at the high school,"
Faulkner said, "so I don't know if the technology creates a
barrier or if they simply don't have questions during class."
said the students seem to shy away from having the video camera
focused on them individually, however, they are doing well on quizzes
they had to make do without Lagrange multipliers on their most recent
was nothing on the test that allowed them to use the method,"
Fariss Samarrai, (434) 924-3778