School's out, but class still in session
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/05/2020 (1126 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There are about 1,500 students at Maples Collegiate, one of Winnipeg’s most populated high schools. Without them, the campus is an ideal backdrop for a horror film.
Lockers are empty. Classrooms are dark. Even the building temperature is colder than usual, having dropped along with the number of sweaty teenagers walking the halls.
Dariusz Piatek, one of the few people here this morning, has come dressed in a sweater and puffy royal blue vest. The veteran mathematician opted to continue working out of Room 213 when classes were suspended indefinitely for Manitoba’s 210,000 K-12 students, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every weekday morning, Piatek, 53, sets up his devices to livestream Grade 12 pre-calculus. WebEx software allows him to use a webcam and screen-share an interactive whiteboard with his 41 students.
Today’s lesson is on circular functions — a critical unit for future physicians, scientists and engineers. Like much of the course, it involves colour-coded graphing. It’s perhaps ironic, Piatek says, the semester was cut short before he assigned his signature virus-graphing dice game.
Students begin with one die (patient zero). They begin to roll it and track the numbers on a data sheet. If they roll a six (the virus), they must add another die to the mix (a community transmission victim). The final graphs almost always show the opposite of a flattened curve.
Hands-on games have been put on hold. Luckily, Piatek hasn’t had any tech issues.
Angela Arevalo is among the 34 students who tune in today. She is a 12-minute walk from the school, but she now studies in a basement bedroom decorated with a poster of the periodic table of elements. The 17-year-old has mixed feelings about the year ending this way.
“I really wanted to test what I know in pre-calc and try to aim for that 100 per cent,” says Arevalo, who plans to study science at the University of Manitoba in the fall.
In Room 213, there is a “100 per cent club” — students who have scored perfectly on their provincial exam.
No one will get a chance to win a coveted spot or custom Maples Mathlete shirt this year. Nevertheless, Piatek plans to prepare them all for whatever comes next.
“If you don’t have any questions, you know where to find me: text, email, phone,” he says, ending the class at 11:40 a.m. “I hope you all stay safe.”
— Maggie Macintosh