Cornell math dept. reaches out to high school seniors

By: Linda B. Glaser,  Arts & Sciences Communications
June 6, 2016

On May 22, Ithaca High School (IHS) seniors presented the mathematics research projects they did as part of the Senior Seminar, a course for Ithaca High School (IHS) students who have completed most or all of the IHS math classes. The seminar meets at the high school and is taught by three graduate mathematics or applied mathematics students each year, to introduce high-school students to three mathematics topics they normally would not see until college. This year, the graduate students were Daoji Huang, Sergio Da Silva and Aliaksandr (Sasha) Patotski and the topics were Projective Geometry, Introduction to Number Theory, and Group Theory Via Interesting Examples.

Ithaca High School Senior Seminar Participants, 2015-2016. First Row: Julia Miller, Severin Drix (IHS mathematics teacher), Jasper White, Eleanor Pereboom, Daoji Huang (Cornell graduate student instructor); Second Row: Daniel Xu, Jeong Hyun Lee, Yaateh Richardson, Zachary Stillman, Adam Newhouse; Third Row: Sergio Da Silva (Cornell graduate student instructor), Sasha Patotski (Cornell graduate student instructor), Ronan Perry, Kieran Loehr, Bowen Shan

“The Senior Seminar provides an unusual opportunity for high-school students to be exposed to a deeper and more detailed analysis of advanced mathematical topics and to explore them on their own,” says Mary Ann Huntley, director of mathematics outreach and K-12 education activities for the math department “In addition, they are able to meet and interact with professional mathematicians.  Graduate student instructors appreciate the experience of planning and delivering lessons to high-school students, saying it is a valuable learning tool in their development.”

After an eight-week seminar on each of the three topics, the students engage in a research project under the mentorship of the graduate students.  The course culminates in the high school students’ presenting their research projects, which this year were “Projective Transformations and Harmonic Quadruples,” by Jeong Hyun Lee and Daniel Xu; “Elliptic Cryptography,” by Adam Newhouse and Kieran Loehr; “Image Processing and Projective Geometry,” by Yaateh Richardson, Jasper White, and Julia Miller; “Number Theory Problems Involving Squares,” by Eleanor Pereboom and Ronan Perry; and “Group Theory and the Pyraminx Puzzle,” by Zachary Stillman and Bowen Shan.

Ravi Ramakrishna, professor and chair of Cornell’s Department of Mathematics, delivered remarks at the May 22 event, along with IHS math teacher Severin Drix, the IHS faculty advisor for the program.

The Senior Seminar course is currently funded by Cornell’s Department of Mathematics and the Center for Applied Mathematics.


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