About Applied Math

Welcome! We're excited that you are interested in teaching Applied Math at BEAM Discovery.

Why Applied Math?

There are two core principles behind BEAM Discovery. The first is that students should be challenged, and should be introduced to new topics and ideas that go deeper into mathematics. The second is that students should desire to continue their studies of mathematics beyond the summer, gaining the skills to pursue their interests.

At heart, we're pure mathematicians who love math for its own sake and who believe that mathematics is intrinsically beautiful. However, neither of our goals can truly be accomplished without applied math. For one thing, we will be missing key ideas in math if students do not explore how it can be used in the world. Moreover, while some students may fall in love with pure mathematics as we have, many of them will be motivated more by seeing it used in the world.

There is also one particular idea that is too important to ignore: programming. An education in programming is hugely empowering for students, and a key to their future. Moreover, a good introduction to programming can give students the tools to continue programming on their own after the summer. We want to make sure that programming is an option for all of our students.

Different Classes

A key principle of BEAM is one of choice: we believe that students are more invested in their educations when they have control over what they are learning. To that end, we would like the students to be able to choose between several different courses to find the one that excites them the most.

Teaching Applied Math is an opportunity to exercise your creativity. We don't have any set topics in mind. Instead, we encourage new ideas that will really excite the students and allow them to explore deep ideas. Here are just a few examples of topics we think would work well:

  • Programming. We might offer multiple options within programming. Some students might opt to take a more serious (and challenging) course doing programming in a language such as Python or Javascript, while others might choose a more mellow introduction in a block-based environment such as Scratch or code.org, where they can build functional, graphical applications quickly. In either case, our goal is to design the course so that they can continue programming on their own after the summer.

  • Real-world Calculations and Estimations. From exploring Fermi problems to understanding units to basic mathematical modeling and understanding how math can be used to understand the world, there are many areas to explore. As a few examples, this course could be used to measure the heights of buildings, understand questions about fuel efficiency, or explore financial inequality.

  • Astrophysics. An astronomy or astrophysics course could talk about the positions of stars and planets and celestial navigation; it could talk about how similar triangles are used to measure the distances to stars through parallax; it could present various formulas, show some evidence for their validity, and then use them to derive more about the stars. Mathematical content would include both scientific notation, units of distance, and how to plug numerical values into formulas, all of which would be very valuable to students.

  • Mathematical Biology. A biology course could introduce students to genetics and do various mathematical analyses of how traits are passed down and how likely various conditions are depending on the genetic makeup of the parents. It could discuss the differences between asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction, demonstrating how genetic diversity can be increased. (Yes, there will be jokes.) It could discuss DNA, how data is encoded into DNA, and how many possibilities can exist from a single DNA strand.

  • Circuit Design. A circuit design course could introduce logical circuits, AND, OR, and NOT gates, and equivalences between different combinations of gates. Students could construct different gates and, after an introduction to binary, perhaps get to the point of building an adder. Actual opportunities to construct real circuits could give let them bring their ideas into the world.

  • Cryptography. A cryptography course could discuss modular arithmetic as well as probability when looking at the likelihood of different codes being broken. (Although, it is unlikely you'd have time to get to RSA encryption.)

In short, there are a wealth of interesting applied courses that cover deep material and are accessible to rising 7th graders.

Unlike most of the other courses, there is no specific roadmap to Applied Math. We want to see students getting excited about a topic, ideally so that they will want to pursue continued study of it in the future. Moreover, seeing how math is used directly can give them a much stronger sense for mathematics as a subject, and how it must fit together.

Other Important Notes

Unlike our other classes, we mostly do not have any prepared materials for an Applied Math course. (Although, we can connect you with others who have taught similar courses in the past.) Hence, you will need to design your course "from scratch", although we can advise you in the process and connect you with useful resources. This is a significant opportunity, but also a greater (and more time-consuming) responsibility.

If you are interested in teaching a programming course, there are a number of potential tools to use. Last year, one of our classes used a tool developed by a nonprofit called 9 Dots, which has a publicly-available curriculum around Javascript on a platform that would let students continue learning afterward. Here's another available curriculum. It is important to us to have solid programming classes, and we are willing to do what we can support the development of these.

Part of your application to teach will be a basic course proposal, to show us what you would put together and how you would do it. Then, between now and the summer, you would flesh out your idea into a ready course for the students. You will be free to design your course as you see fit, although you should give us a heads up if you intend to deviate significantly from your proposed outline. You should feel free to ask us for advice and help throughout the process.

Ready to Apply?

Our applications all involve giving a course description about how you would teach your course. For the Applied Math course, please include:

  • Briefly describe the course and what you would cover.

  • Tell us about something exciting that might happen in the classroom.

  • What is a problem that the students might solve? What is a project they might do?

In addition, we ask that you send us a copy of your CV or resume, or a short summary of your education and work experience. (In particular, please don't spend hours polishing your CV on our account if you do not have one ready!)

Once we have received your application, our hiring committee will review it and then get back to schedule an interview if we feel you're a good fit.

Ready to apply? Want to preview the application? Please click the button below!

Learning Mathematica