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AP calculus students learn computer skills

Tigard software company donates time, tech to Sandy


A Sandy High School AP calculus class got the chance to work with professional math application software for the second year in the row.

One of math teacher Aleta Doss’s top classes has based its final projects of the year on a partnership with Tigard company Saltire Software.

On Tuesday, June 3, Phil Todd, founder of Saltire Software, visited the Sandy High Library to see the juniors’ and seniors’ finished projects.

Saltire creates and distributes programs that allow for the creation of apps to show video illustrations of math and geometry expressions.

A few years ago, Doss took part in creating software for Saltire, along with one other teacher and two students, as a summer institute to research the use of the software in schools. The institute was funded by a grant through the National Science Foundation.

“Phil Todd has a cabin in the area and has been supportive of Oregon Trail School District for years,” Doss said.

Students spent several classes learning the software and creating their apps. Completed apps depicted everything from simple representations of equations to documenting the calculus of the students’ car travel.

Emma Jacobson decided to take a simple approach to her calculus app. Her program tracks the rotation of a ball along a sine curve.

Although she said she probably won’t use this software in the future — “I don’t really have a math-centric career plan” — she enjoyed the challenge of learning the new skills.

Senior Cannon Westfall took a more fun approach to choosing and creating his program.

His program was based on the popular movie series “Star Wars.”

Westfall created an app that serves as a representation of the Empire’s Death Star in orbit of the Forest Moon of Endor. The purpose was to track the science fiction ship’s orbit and pinpoint distances in which it is within the correct range to fire upon the moon.by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Senior Cannon Westfalls classmates said he is quite proud of his Star Wars based math application.

“Basically, I found that every pi-over-two, you get the distance you need for the Death Star to start firing away,” Westfall said.

Not only were students gaining a better understanding of the math expressions they chose, they got to expand their computer skills.

“In our ever-changing world, young people will need to keep pace with technological advancements,” Doss said. “We can best equip them to do that by facilitating the cutting-edge experiences they will need to become lifetime, tech-savvy learners.”

Todd said Saltire Software will probably be involved with Sandy students in the future. “The experience was very positive from our perspective,” he said.