by Aiden Hills, staff writer
MARCH 2022 — Math has been taught in the same way for centuries, through memorization and calculations. Starting in 2020, Bio-Med Science Academy introduced a new math program. The goal of this program is for students to be able to calculate answers without any assistance in addition to using strategies to solve problems. This new adaptation started with the class of 2024 and will follow them to their senior year, and will continue to be administered for all grades following. In previous years, Bio-Med offered classes like Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and options for senior students like College Math, Pre-calculus, Calculus, Statistics, and CCP Calculus. This school year, Bio-Med has adopted Integrated Math 9 through Integrated Math 12.
Bio-Med’s new method of teaching math is focused on data and using technology to solve issues, as opposed to the memorization of strategies to solve the problem. This is largely due to the fact that innovations in technology allow machines to do calculations faster than the human brain can.
One of Bio-Med’s goals is to prepare its students for the workforce, and as the world is evolving, many jobs are switching to more virtual formats, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Apple has decided to offer a completely virtual option for some of its positions. One position that can go virtual is the programmer, which requires a considerable amount of math that can be done much faster through the computer.
Ms. Diane Brook, the ninth grade Integrated Math teacher, has been teaching math for 17 years, five of which have been at Bio-Med. Brook compared the way she was taught math with how math is taught at Bio-Med, and believes the change is beneficial, saying, “[Math has] been taught the same way for a long time. It’s always been taught the exact same way — methods that we don’t require anymore. [It’s] based on technology and what you need to have for your career. We have technology that does the calculation; for example, ask Siri.”
The integrated math program allows students to look more into why the problems are solved and the step-by-step process of solving a problem by hand.
Brook believes that the math program is better for a wider variety of students, because it doesn’t rely on memory. “I think there are two sides to it. Students who memorize well don’t like it. To analyze and create is a different comfort zone. I think the capability to allow everybody the same opportunity to grow is good. Students who aren’t as good at times tables and memorization [now] have an easier way of learning because they only have to focus on application,” she added.
Kamaira Huffman, a ninth-grade student, enjoyed the change to the math program, saying, “I feel like I learned a lot. I feel like we’re going through it in a way that makes sense to me. It shouldn’t be so based on memory when you can pick up your phone and Google it, and I like it that way.”
Another ninth-grade student, Nathan Smithberger, agreed, saying, “Everywhere is gonna have a calculator nowadays, so we might as well just use it to our advantage.”
On the other hand, freshman Kaylee Fink said math was more challenging because she couldn’t retain information with this way of teaching.
“I don’t enjoy how it’s taught this year; it’s not getting the point across,” said Fink. “Whatever I was studying or taking notes on wasn’t working. I think it’s a problem a lot of students face.”
Freshman Sophia Dalton agreed that many students are struggling, saying, “A lot of us failed [the midterm].”
The new math program was first taught to the class of 2024 in their freshman year. This program is also taught by Mrs. Melissa Cairns to the sophomores.
10th grade student Irenne Scherer thinks that the new math program is better than last year’s, saying, “I personally didn’t learn a lot last year, but this year it’s better [because] it’s a lot more hands-on and not just asking questions.”
The math program is still new and has produced mixed reviews from students. Some students seem to enjoy the new way it is taught because of the fact that it provides a more hands-on learning than last year, where memorization was at the forefront, while others were critical of the way it is taught because it is hard for them to understand and retain the information. The math program is projected to be taught to the senior class in two years and the junior class next year.