What began as a normal day Dr. Jaroslaw Gibulska's freshman calculus course on the University of Georgia's south campus took an unexpected turn towards the motivational on Monday morning. When returning the previous week's exams to his students, Dr. Gibulska paused at the desk of student Brock Madison, a freshman from Alpharetta, shouted "Newton's Method" and dropped to the floor where he performed ten pushups. We reached Dr. Gibulska by phone and asked him what he was intending to accomplish.
"Well," he said, "when I arrived here there was a lot of talk about how we were running a high school level math department and in the past year we've been working very hard to prove to the rest of the world that we do college level calculus." When asked about whether that was a realistic possibility in a year given that his current students had not applied to school with the idea of participating in modern math, Dr. Gibulska said, "it will be a process, but we are celebrating a change in culture and look forward to challenging other area schools to be second to none in the state of Georgia in math."
And the pushups? "Look, Newton's method is something you see in all levels of calculus, but when we take a step towards where we want to be we celebrate the success and the work it took to get there." Dr. Gibulska wouldn't discuss Mr. Madison's overall grade on the exam, but students familiar with the matter noted that in addition to the Newton's method question Mr. Madison successfully completed six other questions. Dr. Gibulska did note it was a 59 question exam.