Seniors present software at tech conference

Skylar Jung (12), Jodie Hoh (12) and Carine You (12), presented their piano practice-assistance software with Augment founder and CEO Eric Nelson, who runs an augmented reality platform, at the 2017 Wolfram Technology Conference in Champaign, Ill. from Oct. 17 to 20, where adviser and teacher Abby Brown gave a lecture entitled “3-D Printing in High School with Mathematica.” 

Brown introduced Hoh, Jung and You to Nelson, who gave them the opportunity to intern with Augment last summer as he had for previous TPHS students. 

“We were the next generation of kids participating in Augment,” Hoh said. 

According to Jung and Hoh, the girls created a software called Piano Skills Visualizer, which monitors practice habits and collects information from piano players and provides feedback on the players’ skill. 

“[The software] analyzed beginner piano playing … through mathematical components of music, such as timing, note value and tempo,” Hoh said. 

The girls presented their work with Nelson in a 20-minute presentation at the conference. 

“It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, because there were four of us speaking,” Hoh said. “It wasn’t too hard either because we were very familiar with our project.”

Wolfram Technology is the creator of Mathematica, a mathematical computer programming language that Brown uses in lessons and projects. 

The conference is a professional conference targeted at Wolfram product users in different industries. Despite its primary focus on STEM fields, the conference attracts a wide variety of users. 

“The conference gives us an opportunity to interact with not just educators but professionals who are using Mathematica in a wide variety of applications,” Brown said. “There are people who use Mathematica for math, science and engineering, but there are also people who attended who use it in the arts and humanities, law and business applications.” 

The ability to interact with leaders in different fields was beneficial for the students who attended. 

“At the Wolfram dinner, I sat next to this German guy, who was really nice, and because I’m planning to major in computer science, he was talking to me about [classes] and different things you have to take, so you have to make a lot of connections,” Hoh said. 

The contest participants also learned about new developments in fields they were interested in. 

“I was able to see a lot of the stuff that was currently going on in the technology field, and as we went to sessions, I was able to see … what was being updated,” Jung said.  

After attending for several years, Brown stopped bringing student delegations to the Wolfram conference after a loss of funding for travel and the births of her children. However, after meeting Nelson at the end of the 2016 school year, Brown saw student partnerships with Augment as an opportunity to bring students back to the annual conference. 

Brown’s three classes, Calculus CD, Calculus D-Linear Algebra and Advanced Math Topics are the highest level math classes at TPHS. However, they are not AP classes or College Board-affiliated. Instead, the classes are run through a partnership with San Diego State University. SDSU and Wolfram Research helped provide the necessary funding for students to attend the conference. 

“The primary source of funding was through SDSU, and they covered most of the travel expenses,” Brown said. “There are not many high school students that go …  but because of my long-term relationship with Wolfram Research and the fact that we were presenting, [Wolfram] helped waive some of those costs.”  

Brown sees potential for more interaction between the TPHS math department and Wolfram Research in the future. She will begin holding Wolfram Workshops  on Dec. 11 after school to allow all students to learn how to use the Wolfram language. Brown also recently received confirmation that TPHS students will attend the Joint Mathematics Conference in January 2018 in San Diego and help run the Wolfram Research booth in the exhibit hall. 

“This is the annual conference of the MAA, the Mathematical Association of America, and the AMS, the American Mathematical Society. These are the two largest professional organizations of mathematicians,” Brown said. 
Brown plans to attend the Wolfram Technology conference during the next school year. 

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