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Peter Koehler

The Nueva School
Lower School Math Enrichment Teacher
Peter Koehler holds a PhD in theoretical and elementary particle physics from Royal Holloway College, University of London; a master’s degree from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London; and carried out post-doc studies in the theory group at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center before becoming a math enrichment teacher at Nueva, where he has been teaching for over 20 years. At Nueva, Peter has become particularly interested in encouraging and fostering mathematical creativity in his students and was awarded a fellowship from Johns Hopkins University for excellence in teaching in 2012. He enjoys showing his students the surprising ways in which math can be used to describe aspects of the natural world. Inspired by the work of the Pythagoreans, he has developed an approach to elementary math teaching where the students use colored interlinking blocks and follow a few simple rules to visualize numbers; look for patterns, shapes, and sequences; make their own mathematical creations; and develop a sense of the more general principles of mathematics. He has found that this approach stimulates interest and enthusiasm for math, is a great motivator, and can spark mathematical creativity, originality, and a joy in the subject, and can lead to more intriguing and advanced aspects of math.

Peter has been a regular presenter at the Nueva ILC conferences and will be presenting a paper at the 11th International Conference on Mathematical Creativity and Giftedness in Hamburg, Germany, in 2019. He has taught independent enrichment programs at several Bay Area schools and the University of Santa Cruz extension. A painter in his spare time, Peter has run visual arts summer camps throughout the Bay Area for the past 25 years. He has also written plays for children.