There’s a unique and exciting opportunity for children to become excited by math, as Kindergarteners learn math from a superhero.
His red cape billowing behind him, a red mask hiding his eyes, Zero the Hero pulls up on his Harley Davidson motorcycle to a kindergarten classroom at Tulita Elementary School. The kids squeal and giggle in excitement as the motorcycle roars up and halts in front of them.
Zero steps off the bike.
“What’s the best school in Redondo Beach?”
“Tulita,” the kids say quietly.
“What? I want the neighbors to hear you,” Zero says.
“Tulita!” they scream out.
“Can you count to 100 by tens?” he asks the students.
They begin, “10, 20, 30…”
Learning Place Value
Zero is a unique kind of hero. His superpower is numbers.
On the 100th day of school each year, Zero visits a few Redondo Beach elementary classrooms, where many of their activities for the day are based on the number 100. Counting by tens is a part of their curriculum.
In the 1990s, Steve Aspel, then a Redondo Beach dad, now the mayor of the city, was asked to become Zero the Hero. It’s a job he doesn’t take lightly.
He cut his trip to Hawaii short to make sure he was at Alta Vista, Birney and Tulita elementary schools on the 100th day last Friday.
“I started doing it in tights and a leotard. That ship has sailed,” Aspel said.
Now, he wears baggy black pants and a black T-shirt. The red cape is still the same, although a little frayed from getting tangled up in his Harley.
Tulita kindergarten teacher Linda Luna said Zero the Hero helps the teachers motivate the students and helps the students understand what each place value really means.
Every 10th day of school, Zero (the teachers) paid a visit to the classroom and left something special, such as apples when they were learning about the fruit.
“All of his smaller visits lead up to the day we meet him,” Luna said. “Many of my students were so excited to meet him that they were not able to sleep the night before.”
Aspel said he’s walked up to people at the high school and they all remember meeting Zero the Hero.
“When they’re kindergarteners, you don’t have to have a super costume or a super physique. You just gotta give them a little diversion for 10 minutes and they believe you’re a super hero,” he said.
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