Infinity - Math and Science Crash
By Michael Yakubovsky - Instructor
Coppell High School, Coppell, Texas
You could say that the Infinity Project is a “crash course”
of sorts. More to the point, this is the course where math and
science crash head-on into each other. Students are always complaining
to their math and science teachers, “When will I ever
use this?” They don’t say that in Infinity. Instead,
the statement is more often, “So that’s what I use
When we started talking about digital sound in class, it was
mainly in the area of music. Digital music is something that
all of the kids are familiar with. I have a large group of tech-savvy
seniors who have a good understanding of MP3 and copying music.
That is the extent of their knowledge. As we discussed sound,
we talked about the mixing of sounds and how these different
sounds created the complex waves. This discussion delved into
adding sine waves to create these complex waves. Their math
class was starting to meet up with physics. At this point, it
was still quite academic.
All of the discussion we had up to now was in areas they were
comfortable with. Some of the students had even done this kind
of work before. I threw in a twist at this point. From time
to time, I like to have what I call, “tear-down days.”
A tear-down day is simply a day where we take a motor or engine
or something and take it apart to see how it works and how it
was designed. We get to look at the engineering design process
from the back end. Previously, we had taken apart an old lawn
mower engine that didn’t work. We were going to put it
back together again and try to get it working. At this point,
I proposed a challenge. Create a worksheet that would run a
diagnostic on the engine.
All around the room were blank stares. We discussed how a complex
sound is simply a combination of multiple sounds on top of each
other. The sound an engine makes is no different. There are
certain parts operating in a specific way that each creates
a specific sound. All of that activity creates one specific
complex signal that can be measured. If something in the engine
is not working correctly, then the sound it produces will change.
This change can be measured as well. Since I have a lot of seniors,
they all understand the fact that they can tell when their car’s
engine does not sound right. A lawnmower is no different. We
just don’t have the experience to do it with our ears.
The Infinity VAB Software will become our ears. They have now
set out to find a good working engine, that is similar to our
engine, and get a good recording of the engine running. Through
VAB, they are going to compare the standard engine to our engine
and work on it until the signals are acceptably close.
This challenge began to take on a life of its own when I explained
that Harley Davidson has an engineer that does the exact same
thing. They test their engines in a sound room. The equipment
can pick up unwanted rattles, loose attachments, or ill-fitting
parts simply by analyzing the sound of the engine and comparing
it to a known sample of a perfectly running engine.
Infinity is a break from the ordinary. It helps students learn
how math and science are applied to solve real problems –
and that’s extraordinary!
Coppell High School was recently identified as one of the
best high schools in Texas by the Texas Business & Education
Coalition and placed on 2006 Honor Roll. TBEC identifies the
Honor Roll schools by analyzing three years of performance data
for all Texas public schools. A school must have a high percentage
of students meeting state standards on the TAKS tests in all
subjects for three consecutive years, with an emphasis on how
many students score at the state’s highest standard –
commended – on all tests. Selection criteria account also
for each school’s student demographics, the number of
subjects tested and the grades served.
New Curriculum Offering
By Rosemary Aguilar
Director of Curriculum and Professional Development
Beginning in the fall of 2007, a new curriculum will be available
to introduce 9th and 10th grade students to the world of engineering
– The Infinity Project for Computer Applications. Students
will learn about and apply engineering design principles to
solve problems. In addition, students will learn the real world,
mathematics-based origins of the solutions they create.
This year long course is designed for students that have met
basic math and science requirements and covers the following