High school students have been exploring real world learning by taking their classroom outdoors and on the river, resulting in solving math on the Merrimack. Al the calculations performed have to do with current, plotting a course, and using instruments. Reality is now part of the lesson, and students are loving it.

Math on the Merrimack

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A talented teacher found that the real world application of problem solving was particularly important one day when she was rowing and caught in a current. Amesbury High School math teacher, Jessica Regis realized that making the abstract a reality for her students was a possibility. She set about making the possible come true, and the results are a successful and unique learning experience. . 

“The need was to make math accessible,” Regis said. “To answer the question, ‘When will we use this?’ And to have the students see a real-life application.”

Out rowing a boat by Lowell’s Boat Shop one day during the summer of 2012, Regis saw her chance. She got caught up in the powerful current and had to use all her analytic talents to get herself back on track.

“I was Bob in a boat,” Regis said. “If Bob is in a boat on the river and the current is so much, how much does Bob have to row?”

Math on the Merrimack

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Regis extracted herself from her quandary, but saw a way to inspire her students and the “Math on the Merrimack” program soon began with the help of Lowell’s Boat Shop and an initial $10,000 grant from the Amesbury Education Foundation Inc (AEFI.)

For the past two school years, Regis’ Honors Analysis and College Prep Advanced Math classes have been rowing out of Lowell’s Boat Shop conducting experiments to determine the Merrimack River’s velocity, depth, tidal variations, distances and rowing speeds using geometry, trigonometry and algebra.

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