Three B-A high school students combine math and technology with online program

Three Bellwood-Antis High School students participated in an innovative and exciting program this year which combined both math and technology.
Seniors Andrea Litz and Jaclyn Davis spent the school year learning Advanced Placement calculus over the Internet through the Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation, and sophomore Laura Garber studied advanced math online through the same program.
According to high school principal Michael Sakash, the idea for the program originated because only Litz and Davis were interested in taking AP calculus, and only Garber was eligible for taking advanced math this year. The administration worked to find an alternative way for the students to be able to enroll in these classes without hiring another teacher.
Online computer classes are more common for students who are home-schooled or for students who are in college, but as in the case for these Bellwood students, it is becoming more accessible to students in public school as well.
“There’s a strong possibility we’re going to continue in this,” said Sakash of the online computer classes. “The kids like it.”
Sakash said the next step is to analyze the AP test results and grades of the students taking the class online and then compare the results to see if the program is working or not. The students have already taken the AP examination and will receive the test results in July. The score of the AP examination is based on a scale of one to five, where three is a passing score.
For the online math classes, the students met in the computer lab at school everyday. There was an online teacher that would assign work, and the students could work at their own pace. If there was a question about a specific math problem, the students could phone an assistant if needed. However, there was not an actual math teacher assigned to help the students with their work. All tests, assignments and problems were conducted over the Internet.
The students said they liked the computer class because they were able to work at their own pace. Also, the students said it allowed them to understand why certain problems worked out the way they did instead of just doing the problems to complete the steps for a grade.
However, the students did say the class was sometimes harder because there was not a teacher in the class to help them with the math problems. Also, they said that prospective students for the program would need to be very self-motivated in order to get the work done because there would not be constant guidance from a teacher.
The students agreed the program did prepare them for college and the real world because they were able to use technology and work on their own. The new programs they learned for the computer class was Math Type and Graph Matica. They would recommend the class to other students who are self-motivated.
After graduation, Litz is planning on attending the Space Coast Health Institute in Florida, and Davis is going to the University of Pittsburgh, main campus. Garber will be a junior at Bellwood next school year.