Following the AP Calculus exam on May 4, the students in the Calculus class were surveyed about mathematical concepts that were of interest to them. In addition, they were also asked if they would be interested enough in a topic to research it and present to the class. The curriculum for the four weeks that followed was built on the results of this survey. Topics were taught by either the course teacher, Mrs. Sayegh, an invited guest lecturer (via Zoom), or one of the students themselves.
Our Spring Speaker Series began with Matthew Homa and Dylan Lee (both Class of 2021) teaching our class about convergent and divergent sequences and series, topics typically taught in a Calculus 2 CEGEP course. They showed us how you can add up infinitely many things and still get a finite number. How cool is that?!
Moving into statistics, our students were excited to welcome Dr. Yves Bergevin, family physician, epidemiologist and public health physician at McGill University. Using his extensive international public health background, Dr. Bergevin was able to talk to the students about the arduous process required when testing a vaccine and ultimately rolling it out to the public. His son, Daniel Bergevin 2021, continued the lesson the following day when he taught us about statistical testing and the techniques biostatisticians use to test whether the results they are finding are statistically significant or simply due to chance.
George Adamopolous contributed to our Speaker Series by bringing in a drone that he had programmed and teaching us about machine learning. The students were in for an added surprise when Ms. Virginia Cornelius appeared on Zoom to join George's lesson. Ms. Cornelius, math teacher at Lafayette High School in Oxford, Mississippi, is the beloved personality featured in the collection of AP Calculus review videos students were referred to in preparation for their exam. She is also one of the 1,000 teachers tasked with marking this year's exam.
Sean Vinh 2021 taught us about vectors, their properties and the operations we can carry out with them. These topics are typically covered in the second year of CEGEP, when students take Linear Algebra. When Ms. Cornelius joined our class again, as a surprise to the students, Sean was able to field her tough questions seamlessly.
Our lessons on vectors, matrices and machine learning were extended to the field of astronautical engineering when Tyler Presser, 2021 graduate of the University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering, taught us about how rotational matrices are used to orient, and thereby communicate with, satellites in space. In addition to impressively earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering in only four years, Tyler was also awarded the Rocket Scientist of the Year award at his graduation. If that was not enough of an inspiration to all our Selwyn House Space Club fans, this summer Tyler will be working in Pasadena, California, for NASA.
Aidan Gertler 2021 says he has been working on understanding the Riemann Hypothesis for a year and a half. This is no easy feat, as the Riemann Hypothesis is among the seven Millennium Prize Problems the Clay Mathematics Institute is offering $1M to solve. Perhaps, thanks to Aidan's presentation, we can boast that one of our Old Boys will be the award-winning mathematician.
“The passion and curiosity of these individuals led to a very successful Speaker Series,” said Samara Sayegh, AP Calculus teacher and Senior School Math Department Head. “Well done, Gentlemen!”