Two passionate mathematicians infiltrated the LA campus on January 9 and 10 to stir up some enthusiasm for their favorite subject. At one point, Dr. Tim Fukawa-Connelly was in the Ansin Building helping students understand data that they collected from bungee-jumping Barbie dolls, while Dr. Adam Boucher was with others in MacNeil Lounge intently documenting any measurable information provided by water spouting from leaky bottles.
The energetic educators practiced what they preached, that math should be approached in imaginative ways that stimulate curiosity. They seemed determined to make sure that students know it is okay—even fun—to be “mad about math,” instead of “’meh’ about math,” as Dr. Fukawa-Connelly suggested during a presentation that was open to the public on January 9.
Teachers from nearby schools, as well as several individuals who admitted to being “math nuts,” joined members of the LA community for the presentation, titled “Exporting Creativity and Innovation from the Classroom to Reality and Un-reality.” The two presenters shared their enthusiasm, theories, and examples of how educators can teach in inspirational ways, emphasizing that “combining simple ideas can lead to complex phenomena which can unlock the mysteries of the worlds around us.”
Dr. Fukawa-Connelly is an assistant professor in the School of Education at Drexel University, and Dr. Boucher is lecturer in the Mathematics and Statistics Department at the University of New Hampshire. They are the first in the field of mathematics to participate in the J. William Mees Visiting Scholar Program that brings professionals to the campus to offer students first-hand experiences in a variety of fields.
Dr. Fukawa-Connelly offered his comments on what it was like to participate in this program with LA’s students and faculty:
“In the two and a half days that I spent at Lawrence Academy, I met and worked with an incredible group of people.
“The faculty of the math department are dedicated teachers, excited about further challenging their students. They seemed to have as much fun with the activities that we were doing as the students, and it's obvious that they enjoy working with each other and their students; their positive attitude must be infectious.
“The students were a diverse and vibrant group who really seemed to enjoy the work that we did together and generally claimed to think about mathematics differently as a result.
“I had so much fun—it’s pretty clear that Lawrence Academy is a special place and I'm glad to have had the chance to visit.”
The Lawrence Academy community looks forward to its next Visiting Scholar, New York-based singer/songwriter Dar Williams, who will visit on February 10 and 11, 2014. Public portions of her visit will be posted as the date approaches.