Mark Love, an engineer with international experience in transportation systems, returned to Parker to work with the entire 9th grade this week. Love is the founder of Engineers Teaching Algebra, a program that brings an engineer into the classroom to encourage the pursuit of advanced math and science studies.
Love led multiple classes through a hands-on lesson in designing safe traffic patterns through intersections wherein students used algebraic reasoning and proportions to figure out how long, and in which order, to allot green light times in three- and four-way intersections. The final challenge Love presented to students involved developing safe and efficient phasing for a 16-lane intersection.
During the lesson, Love informed the students that an engineer’s most important goal is to solve the problem safely, which earns the engineer an "A" on the task. But, to get the "A+," the engineer should solve the problem safely in the most efficient way possible because as wait time decreases, so does traffic, gas consumption and commuters’ frustrations.
Students had a blast applying the math they have learned during the course of their lives to tackle relevant, intricate and exciting real-world problems. Most importantly, students learned about the power of their minds and how calculators—useful though they may be—could never replace the creative thinking and inference making of which they are so capable.