How do we see the world around us? As individuals, we each perceive reality through many different frameworks. A framework is comprised of a set of concepts that define the way we are looking at the world around us. The Island School’s math program seeks to build a new framework for students to use as they get to better know this new place in which they live.
Throughout the semester, students cover four main topics. First, students dive into the years’ worth of data that is kept on our freshwater system. The freshwater that is used on campus comes from rainfall which is collected and stored in cisterns below some of the buildings on campus. Each morning, water levels are measured and recorded by our student-led cistern chores team (this semester: Abby Wright and Patrick Howard). In class, these numbers from years past are used to track patterns in rainfall and daily water use. Students use these tools to determine whether or not our campus is on track to run out of water during their semester.
Second, students spend a few weeks learning about statistics and how they can be used to talk about an environment. Specifically, students use past research from the Cape Eleuthera Institute to learn about why things such as “sample populations” and “standard error” are applicable to their daily lives and work, as well as to learn to calculate these characteristics. They are then able to apply what they learn to the research they are doing through CEI.
Third, a short amount of time is devoted to talking about the population of Eleuthera, followed by a Down Island Trip (a five day van trip to see and learn about the rest of the island we call home!) during which students are able to get a better feel for the size and scope of the place they are discussing. Finally, the culminating project involves a closer look at The Island School’s energy systems and the idea of carrying capacity.
Math at The Island School is used to not only think theoretically about the world around us (as with most math classes), but also to see and work directly with it. What makes it different is its applicability.