Data with the stars

Students from Northeastern’s Foundation Year present their projects for members of the Northeastern community and their families. Photo by Casey Bayer.

Stu­dents in Northeastern’s Foun­da­tion Year pro­gram proved math con­cepts apply to real-​​world issues in a pre­sen­ta­tion to a trio of local politi­cians and celebri­ties, com­prising come­dian Jimmy Tingle, Mass. State Rep. Jef­frey Sanchez and singer, actor and teacher Marlon Hernandez-​​Jones.

Foun­da­tion Year, based in the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies, is a rig­orous first-​​year col­lege pro­gram that sup­ports City of Boston high-​​school stu­dents as they develop the skills to suc­ceed in any col­lege setting.

The stu­dents made a series of research pre­sen­ta­tions to the guest stars last Wednesday after­noon in Shillman Hall using the data-​​rich Boston Indi­ca­tors Project and the Seven Rev­o­lu­tions. The Boston Indi­ca­tors Project offers inno­v­a­tive ways to under­stand Boston and its neigh­bor­hoods on a local and global scale, and the Seven Rev­o­lu­tions is an ongoing research ini­tia­tive that observes and doc­u­ments impor­tant world trends through the year 2030.

“This is just the begin­ning of an endeavor to develop a nation­wide cur­riculum to teach math to urban youth in a way that is both mean­ingful and useful to the stu­dents and society,” said Raj Jesu­dason, an assis­tant aca­d­emic spe­cialist who teaches math­e­matics to Foun­da­tion Year students.

Tingle, who hosted the event, encour­aged Foun­da­tion Year stu­dents to “learn from other countries.”

Judging by the stu­dents’ pre­sen­ta­tions, they have heard that sen­ti­ment expressed once or twice before. One stu­dent pre­sented find­ings using Gap­minder, a web-​​based ser­vice that pro­vides devel­op­ment sta­tis­tics to address the impact of pop­u­la­tion in India and China, con­flict in Mexico and Colombia, and gov­er­nance and resources in Japan and the United States. In another pre­sen­ta­tion, a stu­dent ana­lyzed the cor­re­la­tion between the Mass­a­chu­setts Com­pre­hen­sive Assess­ment System scores and race in Boston Public Schools.

Sanchez, who rep­re­sents the com­mu­ni­ties of Mis­sion Hill, Jamaica Plain, Roslin­dale and Brook­line, praised North­eastern, noting, “Make no doubt about it, this insti­tu­tion is on a very big map. What­ever you learn here has incred­ible value.”

He and Tingle are former stu­dents of Jesudason’s.

Through their class­work, cur­rent stu­dents assessed how coun­tries com­pare in pop­u­la­tion, gov­er­nance and resources. The stu­dents’ knowl­edge of their topics reflected the quality of their pre­sen­ta­tions, a credit to Jesu­dason, who, one stu­dent noted, is the “best math teacher I’ve ever had.”

Many stu­dents in the class plan to fur­ther their edu­ca­tion at North­eastern and then pursue careers in film­making, engi­neering, accounting, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, psy­chology and polit­ical science.

At the con­clu­sion of the event, Hernandez-​​Jones sang “Amazing Grace” and stu­dents shared their life sto­ries and described the oppor­tu­ni­ties they received as a result of the Foun­da­tion Year program.