Here at SEM, it’s cool to like math. Science, Engineering, Computer
Science—all these things show the fascinating power of mathematical
reasoning. Math is the key tool used to master all STEM disciplines, so
starting freshman year, math is woven into everything to give students the
foundation for all their STEM courses.
The math sequence is designed to give all students the math tools they
need as quickly as possible. All freshman take geometry. All freshman also
have a 90-minute math class each day. Math placement is based on
existing skill levels: some students spend their entire freshman year on
Algebra 2, moving on to pre-calculus as sophomores. Another set of
freshman go all the way through the first calculus course. Most fall in the
middle—they complete Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus and move on to
calculus as sophomores.
Calculus is the most important math class: all STEM disciplines, from
Robotics to Physics to Economics require strong calculus skills. For this, we
slow down. Students have a 90-minutes of calculus every day.
The first calculus course is usually completed by the end of sophomore
year. At that point, science, engineering, and programming begin to take
over each student’s schedule. However, we require all students finish the
second calculus course (BC) and we strongly recommend that they take
statistics and an advanced math course introducing them to differential
equations and multivariable calculus.
It is important to note that freshman math placement does not put a
student on a “track”: all SEM students have the same opportunities to take
the same courses. Freshman math placement determines the pacing of
the classes, not the option to take them. Many students who are placed in
Algebra 2 complete the full sequence.