The Math 6 curriculum is rich in topics and includes ratios, proportions, integers, percents, fractions, decimals, and an introduction to algebraic thinking. The content is designed to lay the foundation for future math studies – from Middle School to Upper School to College. Students, in collaborative groups and individually, use applications to learn the material. For example, adding and subtracting fractions are studied in the context of cooking and using measurement tools. Operations with percents and decimals are motivated through dining and shopping examples, and include practical applications such as determining tips, discounts, taxes, and shipping costs. Algebraic thinking is introduced using activities in which students study a small bicycle touring business and also by considering jumping jack data.
The Math 7 course continues the foundation that was established in Math 6. The topics include positive and negative numbers, rational numbers, similarity, ratios, linear relationships, and probability. Hands-on experiments throughout the year are used to help students establish a deeper understanding of the material. For example, red and black chips are used to study what occurs during negative and positive addition. Fictional characters (called Mug Wumps) are created to study ordered pairs and operations and rules for coordinate planes, building up to creating 3-D models of Mug Wumps. The classic “capture-recapture” method, using jelly beans, is used to develop proportional reasoning to estimate the total size of a population. The introduction to algebraic thinking, begun in Math 6, is extended by considering the concept of a balanced scale and using mystery pouches to build algebraic equations. Staircases are the physical representation used to model the slope of a line. Spinners, dice, and cards are used to develop probabilistic reasoning skills.
The Algebra 1 course is designed to develop algebraic reasoning and understanding while pursuing solutions to interesting problems. The curriculum is organized around big ideas with the development of deep understanding as the goal. Major topics include direct and inverse variation, linear relationships, triangular relationships, exponents and exponential growth, quadratic relationships, systems of equations, sequences, and applied mathematics to solve word problems. As with the Math 6 and Math 7 classes, applications, and hands-on activities are emphasized. For example, students build paper bridges to study direct variation between variables. Triangular relationships are studied as students analyze baseball fields. Students create bank accounts and study the effect of different interest rates over time. Whenever possible, students make connections between the mathematics they have studied over the years and other school subjects. For example, the classic relationship between distance, speed, and time is connected with their science studies of speed, velocity, and acceleration.