Su's project for her Accelerated Math II class. Photo courtesy of Emily Su

Video projects in math classes promote different style of learning

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High school students are no strangers to group projects; whether it be dealing with uncooperative group members or balancing even more uncooperative schedules, group projects are often synonymous with one word: death. But the most excruciating death involves no foam boards or glue but rather, cameras and computers—yes, it is the dreaded video project.

These video projects have even reached the math department in the form of lyric and song. AP Calculus teachers Huong Tran and Nicholas Nguyen have both assigned their classes the so-called “music video project,” where students are to create a parody of a song using lyrics that relate to the subject material, sing that song, and film a music video to post on YouTube. Tran also gave her students the option to animate their own videos instead of filming in person. But the ultimate goal? To review the course material in hopes of bettering student understanding.

“[These projects] require students to think outside of the box and to apply classroom learning in a different context,” Nguyen said. “It teaches them to be more creative because something like this doesn’t have a textbook solution.”

Junior Dang Lam, a student in Tran’s AP Calculus AB class, shares his thoughts on the music video project.

“I’m very satisfied with my music video because I had a lot of fun making it,” Lam said. “It also helps me memorize stuff from calculus [more easily] because [the song] has a rhythm. It was a fun experience after taking the AP exam and all that stress.”

However, video projects in math classes are not limited to only music videos. Emily Wu, who teaches three different math classes, assigned her Accelerated Math II class a project in which groups of six students were to create a poster using various shapes, find the area of the image, and create a 3D model. Students were required to record their methodology and portray their work process in a fast motion video.

“I [wanted] my students to document what they did as a group to realize how much they could accomplish together,” Wu said. “[And] to me, more importantly, with so many types of media, I want students to have difference experiences [with] technology so when they go to college, they won’t feel as lost.”

Sophomore Emily Su, one of Wu’s students, supports this with her own experience.

“I think the video project provided a different way of learning,” Su said. “It was a fun and educational experience. The project allowed my classmates and [me] to interact with each other and learn to work with each other’s schedules. The project also encouraged us to use our creativity skills as well as our math knowledge.”

With the success of video projects, it is hard to imagine the high school experience without them, adding three more seemingly necessary skills to student life: singing, acting, and video editing.

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