Upper school math teacher Kevin Bau describes Beaver’s approach to math education.

The Mathematics Department offers a sequence of courses by which students can gain an understanding of the style and content of mathematics, become adept in its fundamental skills, develop an understanding of the analytic power of mathematics through problem solving, and begin to explore the subject for the beauty of its abstractions and the variety of its applications. Confidence building and minimization of fears are conscious goals. While technology is used in many situations, students are also asked to do work by hand to ensure a deep understanding; our emphasis is usually on “why,” instead of simply “how.”

Three years of math courses are required for graduation, although most students choose to take all four core courses (Algebra 2, Geometry, Precalculus and Calculus). Most students also explore other branches of mathematics through the range of one-term electives that are offered. A student may elect to do an independent study in an area of particular interest where a course is not offered.

Independent Study

Students have the opportunity to explore English, History, Mathematics, Science, Language, or Arts topics of interest under the supervision of a member of the appropriate department. After designing a project with a faculty member, the student presents a formal proposal to the Department Heads for approval. (An Independent Study may not duplicate the content of another course already being offered by the department because of schedule conflicts.) The student works in his or her own time and meets with the specified department member during one scheduled period per week for discussions and planning. Application forms are available from the Upper School Director. Proposals must have been submitted by the regular course selection dates.

Math: Advanced Calculus

This course covers all of the topics of an introductory Calculus course, exploring concepts in depth with a greater emphasis on both the abstract aspects of calculus and its various applications in the real world. Students will be expected to enter the class with a firm grasp of all concepts covered in previous math courses.

Prerequisite: Precalculus and departmental permission. Offered at the Honors level only.

Math: Algebra I

In this course, students will deepen their understanding of equations, systems of equations, rational and radical expressions, functions and graphing.  Students will build a strong foundation for Algebra 2 by working extensively with linear functions, improving number sense and grappling with a variety of real-world applications.

Not offered at the Honors level.

Math: Algebra II

This course reviews and extends Algebra I topics, covering linear and quadratic functions, linear systems, polynomials, and logarithmic and exponential functions.

Prerequisites: Algebra I. Honors level requires departmental permission.
Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Recommendations made by the department.

Math: Calculus

This course includes all of the topics of an introductory Calculus course, including limits, differentiation and integration, and applications.

Prerequisite: Precalculus and departmental permission. Honors level requires departmental permission.

Math: Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs drive our nation’s economy and lead the way when it comes to both job creation and innovation. This class will expose students to all elements of a startup company, including market research, writing a business plan, building financial projections, securing funding, pitching the business to outsiders, and launching a product. Students will work regularly with founders of startups (both successful and unsuccessful) as well as venture capitalists and other investors of early-stage companies. Students will work in teams to develop an idea for a new and innovative company, and, at the end of the course, will pitch their ideas to local venture capitalists. Companies must be designed not only to be profitable, but also to make a positive impact on an industry or on society.

Math: Geometry

This course takes a discovery-based approach to Euclidean geometry, allowing students to develop an understanding within the context of explorations and applications. Coding will play a significant role in helping students develop their logical reasoning skills.

Prerequisite: Algebra 2 and departmental permission. Offered at the Honors and S1 levels. Honors level requires departmental permission.

Math: Introduction to Investing

Should you invest in the common stock of Apple Computer or Exxon-Mobil? How do you decide whether to get a car loan or a lease? How do you determine how much a small business is worth? In this course, we will learn about the time value of money and risk as it applies to analyzing these personal finance questions. We will also use math to explore some of the more common investments, including stocks, bonds and real estate.

Math: Precalculus - Functions

In this course, students will take a deeper look at various families of functions: rational, radical, exponential, logarithmic, parametric and polynomial. Students will learn about the ways in which domain, range, continuity, inverses, composition and transformation apply to those functions. Students will also have opportunities to analyze real-world data and generate predictive models. Topics from discrete math are often included in this course, as well.

Prerequisites: Algebra II and Geometry. Honors level requires departmental permission.
Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Recommendations made by the department.

Math: Precalculus - Trigonometry

Students in this course will learn about angle measurement, periodic behavior, and a range of applications related to both right triangle and circular trigonometry. Analytic geometry and polar coordinates are often included in this course, as well. Prerequisites: Algebra II and Geometry. Honors level requires departmental permission.

Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Recommendations made by the department.

Math: Statistics

This course includes the gathering of data and a variety of sampling techniques, hypothesis testing, frequency distribution, normal distribution, correlation, linear regression, theoretical distributions, and inferential statistics. This course asks students to consider questions such as these: How is data summarized so that it is intelligible? How should statistical data be interpreted? How can we measure the inherent uncertainty built into statistical data? Students will be asked to collect, analyze and interpret real data to answer real questions in their areas of interest.

Senior Colloquium

This course will be built around a series of multi-disciplinary projects, all of which will be designed by the students themselves.  As a group, the students will determine which topics they’d like to pursue, which questions they’d like to answer, and how they’d like to answer those questions.  In this course, students will put skills and knowledge from prior courses to good use, but they will also undoubtedly explore new territory and tackle unfamiliar real-world problems.