Math Teacher Marshall Gordon to be Published in The Best Writing on Mathematics


Just announced: Upper School mathematics teacher Marshall Gordon’s article “The Mathematics of Fountain Design” will be included in the 2014 volume of The Best Writing on Mathematics, published by the Princeton University Press. The Annual publication “brings together the year’s finest mathematics writing from around the world.” The 2014 edition will be published in November. Marshall Gordon has been on the Park faculty since 1985.

Fountain Design in the Curriculum
Mathematics students in the Upper School study quadratic equations. For example, the equation h(t) = -16t2 + 40t +3 can be understood to represent the height of an object as a function of time. In this case, the object is initially 3 feet off the ground which is projected into the air with a velocity of 40 ft/sec. The ‘-16t2’ term represents the distance the object falls as a consequence of gravity. In eleventh grade mathematics classes, Dr. Gordon’s students take on the project of re-engaging that equation to represent the parabolic trajectories and vertical jets at fountain pools. They need to include not only the velocity of their fountain arcs but also the angle of entry from the surface of the fountain, as well the height as a function of distance into the pool. As part of this project, each student designs a fountain that would represent the equations they generated. 

Pictured here, 3-D model by Josh Rifkin ’13.

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