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The Mathematics Department at Cate will encourage you to be a confident and competent mathematician, and, as a result, a better thinker.

The coursework is designed to prepare you for tasks in your life in which you will be using mathematics or be required to think mathematically.

You will find yourself using technology in class, studying in groups, competing in contests, and working on the board solving engaging problems.

You will take one course a year through your junior year, the final course determined by the initial Cate entry level.

For the last 25 years, Cate has been a leader in local California Mathematics League competitions, winning many county titles and finishing among the top schools in California. Last year, over 150 students and faculty participated – more than half of the School. Students also compete in the Westmont College Mathematics Contest and the American High School Mathematics Contest each winter.

Interested in more? Check out the Math on the Mesa!

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Inquiry in Mathematics

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Math 2 is a problem-solving course where the ultimate goal is for students to gain confidence in their ability to make sense of a problem, and once a problem is understood, to apply mathematical knowledge and tools strategically during the problem-solving process, and to persist in solving the problem. At this level, the course provides students with a rigorous, integrated, and in-depth study of algebra processes and geometric principles. Topically, there is a major emphasis on quadratic functions: factoring, graphing, moving between forms, the inverse (the square root function), using quadratics to model scenarios, and using quadratics for the purpose of optimization. Absolute value functions and new forms of linear functions are also explored. In addition to investigating exponent rules, algebraic fractions, and imaginary numbers, students are asked to connect their understanding of algebra to topics in geometry, such as linking equations of quadratics to the geometric definition of a parabola and solving polygon problems on the Cartesian coordinate plane. Other classic types of algebra problems include advanced distance-rate-time questions, shared work, mixture problems, and systems of equations. This class will also cover topics in Euclidean Geometry including polygons (with an emphasis on triangles), their properties and proofs, parallel lines and angle relationships, and circles. We use a variety of materials, including iPad technology, graphing software like Desmos, and problems from “Math 1” and “Math 2” written by the math department at Phillips Exeter Academy to use pattern-building in the service of eventually developing mathematical generalizations. In this course, the math topics are valuable, but equal importance is given to the style in which students take on responsibility for thinking critically, creatively, and collaboratively. This course may serve as a transition into Algebra 2 and Trigonometry or, for those who excel and find the curriculum rewarding, it can also serve as an entry point to our Honors Problem Based Learning strand. Prerequisite: an Algebra 1 course, Math 1, or the equivalent and consent of the department.

Pre-Calculus: Functions builds on the foundation laid in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry. Students delve more deeply into transformations, inverse functions, and composition of functions while continuing to strengthen their graphical reasoning and symbolic manipulation skills. Writing equations, solving or evaluating them, and interpreting results are emphasized as students work with problems in context. Students write equations to model physical situations (tides, population growth, projectile motion, etc) and to set up and solve optimization problems, and they continue to use Desmos in problem solving. This course provides a thorough study of functions as a preparation for calculus. Entering students should have a strong background in Algebra, usually meaning B or better in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry.

Prerequisite: Algebra 2 and Trigonometry or Honors Math 3.

Advanced Calculus 1 is a college-level mathematics course designed as an introduction to a variety of topics relating to integral and differential calculus including functions, graphs, limits, the conception and application of derivatives, the interpretation and application of integrals, and the fundamental theorem of calculus. The course outline focuses on the tools of calculus for problem solving. Prerequisite: Pre-Calculus: Functions and consent of department.