ETHS students participate in a live video chat with a leading astronomer to discuss the recent discovery of the largest black hole in history.

On Dec. 12, Evanston Township High School students in Zachary Hermann’s geometry class had a video chat about the largest black hole yet discovered. Math teacher Zachary Herrmann arranged the video chat with Nicholas McConnell, the lead researcher of the team that discovered and measured the black hole. The discovery had been published in the journal Nature just four days before the video chat, and was reported by news outlets around the world.

During the weekend of Dec. 10-11 Mr. Herrmann’s students read articles, watched videos and listened to podcasts to become more familiar with the major breakthrough. Geometry students, along with a handful of science classes, then had the opportunity to interact with Mr. McConnell, asking questions and listening to his explanations of the work of his team.

Mr. McConnell was born in Evanston and grew up near Deerfield. After trying a couple of research projects, he joined a team using telescopes to look for super-massive black holes in distant galaxies. 

Students in Mr. Herrmann’s classes are using “real-world science” to solve math problems and tackle mathematical concepts that will be introduced later in the year. He says one of his objectives is to help his students make connections between perseverance, tenacity, and success. “Sticking with a problem for a few years is a whole new level of commitment and perseverance,” he said.