good experience because it showed that you can think you are right but then in practice it doesn’t work. We had to figure out what went wrong and learn from our mistake.”
Mathematics chair Paul Morrissey instructing an Honors Geometry class. (above & below)
“There are as many math tracks at the Prep as there are students.” —Paul Morrissey
That “forward-thinking” is exactly what Morrissey recommends for all Prep students, saying that “there are as many math tracks at the Prep as there are students. You can wind up where you want to be even if you take a different path to get there.” Morrissey points to external influences on the curriculum. “We used to worry more about internal demands (classroom space, teacher availability, etc.) to create our courses,” he says. “Now we rely on what colleges want, what the standardized tests are asking and what jobs are available in the STEM fields. To prepare our students for all of these things, flexibility is vital.”
Matt Caltabiano ’14 University of Pennsylvania MECHANICAL ENGINEERING/ BUSINESS ANALYTICS MAJOR Caltabiano remembers very clearly the moment when he realized that coding and programming were in his future. As a senior in the AP Computer Science course, he was working on a project to create a Monopoly game. “It was the first time I did something useful with a computer and I could see how it works and learn how I could tweak it to make it work better,” says Caltabiano, who had taught himself the coding language of Python and Java that previous summer to be prepared for the class. “Now I’m learning how to use coding to optimize operations in the business sector, wealth management, finance, etc.” Caltabiano is spending part of his time in Penn’s highly touted engineering school and the other part in the prestigious Wharton School of Business. While he now knows eight coding languages, it was that summer preparing for AP Comp Sci at the Prep that started it all. As a senior, Caltabiano was also part of the AP Physics class that served as the pilot group for the Intro to Engineering course. He noted that many of the projects they did in class mirrored some of his college lessons. “Mr. Murphy would come in and give us a blanket statement task that we had to solve during the lab,” says Caltabiano. “I remember in one lab our project caught on fire. That was a
Caltabiano felt prepared for his college STEM major. “Work we did was very similar to what I am doing now,” he says. “Senior year at the Prep, we built bottle rockets and launched them to see which one went the highest. Sophomore year at Penn, we did almost the exact same lab." As far as the Prep’s stance that “College Starts Here,” Caltabiano says it’s true. “When I came to Penn, I assumed everyone would be as ready as I was, but they weren’t. There are six guys from my Prep class here and all of us felt like we knew something the others didn’t. We felt more confident in what we did; it was very apparent how much better prepared we were.” Caltabiano sees the value of the STEM interconnection. “Looking back, I probably took it for granted,” he says. “Now I realize that you can’t think about coding without thinking of it as a math problem. Math drives everything you do in physics, in chemistry, in computer science. Math is a prerequisite for engineering and physics.” He points to AP Calculus BC with Mark Kravetz as his favorite class. “We were taught to think through a problem, to figure out an answer,” he says, “and that has been my experience in my college courses, too. Mr. Kravetz taught us the entire curriculum by the end of the first quarter and then spent the rest of the year teaching us things that he thought would be useful moving forward. I took a linear algebra class at Penn and I knew a little about it because of that class at the Prep. I wasn’t intimidated.”
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