As a New York City resident, it’s common to hear as many as ten different languages just on your walk to work in the morning. For the students at Lycée Français de New York, that kind of multicultural exposure doesn’t stop at the schoolhouse doors. In addition to hosting a combination French-English curriculum, this PreK-12 school educates students representing over 50 unique nationalities. It comes as no surprise, then, that when the LFNY TED-Ed Club chose a topic for their presentation, the students were drawn to language — more specifically, the possibility of a universal one.
LFNY’s presentation, titled “Math Universe,” is a group collaboration that combined individual research presentations from each member of the club into a larger final piece, which was presented by club member Pierre Hirschler. Marie De Azevedo, a senior at LFNY, said of the process, “We found a wider question, which was ‘Is math the language of the universe?’ and we broke it into multiple parts – we looked at the history of wanting to unify math as one whole system, or one whole concept, and we looked at why [people] want this, and how it works or doesn’t work.”
The subject was an ambitious intellectual undertaking. When asked about his favorite research discovery, TED-Ed Club Member Grégoire Gindrey said, “I like the fact that there are different models in physics – relativity, Newton’s model, etc. – and we tend to think that one’s wrong and one’s right, but it actually just happens that they’re all right, but in their respective point of reference.”
The student’s ingrained daily exposure to different cultures and experiences helped give them unique insights into this idea. Gindrey continued, “Since we’re in a French high school, but in an American city – and especially in New York – we’re in contact with different cultures. I think we understand in some ways the notion of not having just one unified model, but different models – I think that helped us in our comprehension of the problem.”
In addition to learning quite a bit about math, the students also had the chance to hone their research and presentation skills. Gindrey says, “It was great being able to do research with others, so that if someone had a different point of view, they could always join the discussion and we could find a completely different conclusion because there were a lot of different points of view.”
Check out Lycée Français de New York’s compelling insights on unity in math by watching the full video here:
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