Get to know ATI's online courses: Euclid's Elements a focus on history, philosophy of math

ATI will begin offering online courses this summer. Meet one of the instructors, Jen Fu, and learn more about Euclid's Elements, a course on math and the 'father of geometry.'

This summer, ATI guide Jennifer Fu will be teaching Introduction to Euclid’s Elements as part of the school’s pilot online course program. Classes begin in June, and then Jennifer will teach science and math this fall at ATI’s new campus in St. Louis.

She’s new to the ATI team, incredibly eager, grateful for the opportunity to teach, and excited to share her palpable enthusiasm for math.

“This course is for the student who needs to know why,” Jennifer says of Euclid's Elements, which will help students discover how math supports the laws of nature. “We won’t necessarily do hardcore geometry, but we will build a foundation of logical thinking that can then be applied to higher level geometric thinking. I can’t wait to get started!”

Jennifer has been teaching high school science throughout her entire educational career.

“My background is in science, I have a degree in physics, but science is just applied math, and the more I went through the curriculum, the more I realized that I really loved math,” she says. “I like structure, I like organization, and when I first came across a book that talked about Newtonian physics, I was drawn to the philosophical aspect. They were trying to figure out that the world has this mathematical structure to it — that there are these equations of motion that seem to apply under given circumstances, and if those equations aren’t working, it is because of something within the system that hasn’t been taken into consideration yet.

“I think that idea of applying an equation to something or lending predictability to the physical world is really appealing to me.”

She didn’t see that kind of philosophy applied to traditional math curriculum.

“In high school math, you are given all this information, but a traditional math curriculum doesn’t really ask the questions: Where does this equation come from? Why is it true? Is it always true? What circumstances might it not be true? But that’s what math is, asking questions and testing hypotheses and looking for a prediction much in the same way you are with science,” she says. “Once I started teaching math, I promised myself that I would never tell my students to memorize something only to regurgitate back onto the page. Memorization has its place, but I will always explain where something comes from. I will foster that in them and give them something they can do with relatively few parameters.”

Jennifer works closely with middle and high school students, and she adores the opportunity to join them in their own discovery of learning.

“They are creating their own self identity, and what I don’t want is for them to get all the way through school and feel bad at math,” she says. “I want to be part of the self realization, that YES, you do have this inside of you, and it will come out in myriad different ways and it will be useful in whatever way ends up being useful to you. But don’t ever think you can’t do it! I’ve never met anyone who can’t do math. Maybe you can’t do this math yet, but everyone can do math!”

Jen says she’d like to connect personally with students before the course begins next month.

“I’m excited to talk about the history, bring in books and talk about how Euclid used geometric constructions, but I also just want to get a sense of what the students are hoping for and how best to meet their needs.”

Classes begin June 18 and will continue through July 25. Register today at

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