Upper School Students Bring Computer Science Into Their Algebra 2 Studies

Students in algebra 2 honors furthered their study of matricies and systems of equations through a computer science project.
Teachers from St. Margaret’s computer science and math departments recognized a link between concepts being taught in each of their classes. So they came together and created a unit that brought out that connection and increased the relevancy of what students were learning.  
That unit took place this week, as students in math teacher Meghan Benson’s algebra 2 honors class furthered their study of matricies and systems of equations through a computer science project.
“Students applied their knowledge of matrix operations and matrix equations to the field of cryptography,” Mrs. Benson said.
“First, we practiced translating messages into numerical sequences that were then coded as matrices using Python. Second, students encoded their own message using matrix multiplication. Lastly, students decoded a peer’s message using matrix inversion and converting the number sequence back to an alphabetical phrase.”
Mrs. Benson worked with computer science teachers Nathan Valdez, who created an interactive online lesson for math students to follow, and David Lin, who helped translate the math steps into programming logic that students were implementing.
It’s not the first time teachers from the two departments came together to conceptualize an interdisciplinary unit. Last year, a pilot unit introduced Upper School geometry students to programming using A-frame, which creates 3D shapes and scenes for virtual reality.
St. Margaret’s school leaders have long encouraged interdisciplinary units like this, as such curriculum allows students to connect their learning across subject areas and increases the relevance and presents academic content in a new, enlightening way. 
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