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Math & History Teachers Collaborate on Gerrymandering Lesson

On Monday this week, students in Eric Chalfin's calculus classes and Daniel Petri's AP Government class met together to talk about an important topic: the mathematics of gerrymandering.

"I think it is important that they make connections between subjects to see how we need people with skills in a variety of fields to solve problems," said Chalfin about his collaboration with Petri.

Students were introduced to one mathematical model to measure the compactness of a district and then actively created a map of voters for Gold Team or White Team; they then drew districts that split the same voters into groups of equal representation or in a favorable way for their teams.

Chalfin took inspiration from a conference he attended last month and approached Petri with the idea. "When Eric approached me about doing a co-lesson on gerrymandering, I thought this was a great idea because we talk about the topic of gerrymandering in AP US Government in terms of the political implications of gerrymandering - the political reasons for doing it and the political consequences - but we don't really engage with the topic in as deep of a level as we did in Monday."

Genna Hayes '23 is a student in both classes. "It was really interesting to see how gerrymandering was an issue where we could use multiple classes to understand," she said. "We were able to do a really fun and interactive activity and also learn how possible it is to gerrymander districts by doing it ourselves."