Academics

Get hands-on with new math and visual arts courses

The Mathematics Department and Visual Arts Department have each introduced a new hands-on course that will be available to students starting in the fall of 2016. They will both use the “MakerSpace,” a new room downstairs in the Classroom Building that will be ready for use in the fall.

The new math course is called Mathematical Reasoning Across the Disciplines and will be taught by math teacher Matt Enlow. This course is an inquiry-based approach to mathematical thinking and its application in different contexts and disciplines. Mr. Enlow says that the course will “broaden students’ view of what mathematics really is, what mathematicians actually do, and how mathematical thinking can be applied in almost any context.” Students will be involved in hands-on mathematical experiences by using the “Discovering the Art of Mathematics” curriculum developed at Westfield State University.

Mathematical Reasoning Across the Disciplines is divided into three trimester-long units: Knot Theory, Games & Puzzles, and Music. It is replacing the Discrete Math class, which will no longer run. The class will be available to students who have completed Precalculus or are taking Precalculus concurrently, with permission of the Department Head. The course will be a full year and will count for 1 credit.

The Visual Arts department is introducing a new course called ArtLAB. This course aims to immerse students in a “hands-on studio course and create work inspired by the art of the 21st century.” The full-year course counts for 1/2 credit and is open to students in grades 10-12 who have completed Studio Art, or with permission from the Visual Art Department Head. The program will expose students to work from many different cultures, allowing them the freedom to chose individual projects based on their particular interests, including those that Dana Hall doesn’t provide a class for, such as sculpture.

The class will work with Artists-in-Residence in the Dana Art Gallery, as well as with other visiting artists periodically throughout the year. Local artists will come to classes and teach about their specific art style and work, a way to get students inspired by artists who are pursuing their passions.

Filmmaking is also a key part of the course as students will “create documentary films based on the process and development of projects over the course of the year,” according to the course description. ArtLAB will develop skills in visual language and creative exploration and encourage students to become more observant of themselves and the world around them.

Academic Dean Nancy Rich believes that “each [course] will draw upon creative-thinking and problem-solving skills in order for students to design and create practical and/or artistic objects and figure out solutions to intriguing problems.”