Flexing the Left Hemisphere: What Burkies are Learning in Physics, Calculus and PreCalculus

In our June 2018 News & Views issue, we asked Science teachers and Burkies to share examples of work their class work. Below is a project sample.

TEACHER: David Iverson
COURSES: Physics, Calculus, PreCalculus
GRADE: 11 & 12

Class time for everybody, especially FIS athletes, is very limited during the winter and it’s important that we use the time we have effectively. As I’ve gotten better at delivering educational content over the internet, it’s critical to make sure that what happens in the classroom are the things that can’t be done online. The major emphasis is on hands-on activities such as building electrical circuits in Physics, building foam and cardboard models in Calculus to understand the volumes of rotated functions, and measuring and plotting the mass and diameters of ball-bearings in PreCalculus while investigating best-fit curves.

Andrew Hanus

During our Calculus unit of “Extending Calculus Concepts,” we learned how to calculate the volume of a solid produced when an interval of a function is rotated around an axis. The first of two methods that we learned was the Disk Method which finds the volume of a function f(x) when rotated around the x-axis, or when a function f(y) is rotated around the y-axis. The Shell Method finds the volume when the function f(x) is rotated around the y-axis or when f(y) is rotated around the x-axis. In order to understand the difference between the two methods, we did a series of hands-on activities during which we constructed cardboard and foam structures that represented the solids produced by the rotations. These constructions gave us a tactile and visual representation of the concepts we had been exploring and therefore a greater understanding of the process implemented in them.


Sam Conzelman

Though a challenging course, Physics class this year with DI has been really fun and engaging. The way in which we learn material allows us to really hone in on our critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Most physics classes are structured in a manner to encourage group work, with DI available to guide us in the right direction. The style of learning is extremely beneficial because it really makes us learn the material, not just memorize how to solve a problem.

In Physics, all of the problems we solve are relevant in the real world and we can see them in person around us. This is really beneficial because we are able to understand the physics behind something and really know what is going on. We just recently wrapped a unit on electricity, one thing we did was design and build circuits. Though maybe not as applicable to the real world as electricity, my favorite thing we did this year was the light unit. In class, we traced light through prisms by formulas and equations and we were actually able to show what was happening on the tables in front of us. DI has set the senior class up incredibly well for college physics, mainly because of the thinking and problem-solving skills we have developed over the year.


Jennette MacDonald ’18

In PreCalculus we just finished up our introduction to statistics unit. This unit, in particular, was fun because a lot of what we did was related to skiing. For example, one of the assignments we did was a points list correlation. We found all fifteen correlations between FIS code, competitor id, birthdate, year of birth,  SL points, GS points, SG points, and DH points. We found that SG and DH have a high correlation of 0.73. Even higher, the correlation between year of birth and date of birth was 0.99. As expected the correlation between DH and SL was very small at 0.027. Assignments like this help us to be more motivated to learn more math!