Upper School News

Daniel and the Mystery of UPS Package Delivery
Portrait of Daniel, an. Upper School Nueva student

The seminar was called "How Does UPS Get Your Package to Its Destination on Time?" The three-day curriculum was taught by Keith Devlin of Stanford University and categorized as a course in Creative Math. A snippet from the class summary read as follows: "Many aspects of our lives are controlled by algorithms that make things faster, better, cheaper, more accurate, more efficient, more suited to our needs and desires..."

As a freshman, Daniel is enjoying his first Intersession at Nueva, and his personal interests in engineering, programming, and airplanes are reflected in his seminar choices, which ranged from "Neuromarketing" to "The Intersection of Magic and Engineering." Daniel also signed up for two additional creative math classes, including this UPS tracking puzzle.  

"We're trying to figure out how the UPS delivers packages using a single tracking code," Daniel explained. The class started by plotting the times and cities where the package was received. Daniel's package started on the West Coast, in Petaluma. From there, it went to Newark, then to Oakland, then drove to San Jose, flew to Louisville, and then flew back to Newark, its final destination. 

Daniel threw his hands up when describing the process, "How do they choose where to send packages? And why is it more cost-efficient to send it back and forth across the country?" And that was where the creative math part came into play.

During day two of the seminar, Devlin introduced Karmarkar's Method, which is an algorithm used to decipher linear programming problems. Daniel explained that he was learning mathematical theory and finding alternate approaches to an equation, with the ultimate goal of leveraging formulas that he and his classmates have created. Daniel said, "I end up learning all of the different ways to get to the same solution." He attributes this mathematical creativity to the moments when he and his classmates compare equations and check each other's work. Daniel explains that multiple students will frequently arrive at the same solution through different means of problem-solving.

UPS developed a system called ORION — On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation — to optimize driver routing and determine the most effective way to deliver packages. In his class, Daniel compiled the exact same data that ORION uses to optimize delivery driver routes, thereby illustrating one of the many ways that Nueva educators bring real-world issues to students' desks.  

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The Power of Student Agency

The invitation for Wednesday’s roundtable event “Divestment: The Million Dollar Question” noted, “In response to student activism, the Nueva Endowment Committee is considering the divestment of its holdings in fossil fuel companies for the first time.”

This was very exciting news for students because for at least the past four-to-five years, the student-run Nueva Divestment Team has been working to convince the Nueva Endowment Committee of the need to divest. 

Ninth Graders Work to Create the Beloved Community

What does a community look like? What does it take to build a community and what are the difficulties that might arise? These questions serve as the foundation of the new curriculum in ninth-grade Science of Mind (SOM). Developed by Director of Social Justice and Equity Alegria Barclay, the revamped curriculum focuses on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Beloved Community. The course is very much about antiracism, Alegria said, and antiracism is woven into all aspects of the course.

Activist Kenan Moos Headlines First Event of Special Upper School Programming

A new addition to the upper school schedule this year is a block for special programming on Fridays. For the first in a series of special guest speakers, Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman invited Black Lives Matter activist and local Bay Area native Kenan Moos to speak. In a conversation moderated by student council equity and inclusion rep Fiona T. ’22, Kenan shared not only his background and life experiences, but also how he became an activist and how Nueva students can step up to take action. 

Q&A with Upper School Student Council Co-leads Andrew C. ‘22 and Willow T.C.Y. ‘21

The upper school student council (colloquially known as STUCO) is a group of elected upper school students who work together to support the relationship between the student body and the Nueva administration. This year’s elected co-leads of STUCO are Willow T.C.Y. ‘21 and Andrew C. ‘22 sat down to discuss their backgrounds, their hopes for their roles, and how remote learning changes their priorities.

Quest Week Showcases Impressive Upper School Quest Projects

Quest, a signature Nueva program in the Upper School, is a journey of self-discovery, perseverance, and growth as students explore their own paths to purpose. This year, with all routines thoroughly disrupted, we had an opportunity to innovate how to celebrate Quest.

Reading Event Debuts Student Poems 

Twenty-one Upper School Students, faculty and staff members participated in the WRC’s Poetry Aloud on Wednesday afternoon, a virtual poetry reading bursting with creativity.