Kids retain more information when they are engaged in a subject, and they enjoy problem solving because math time is fun in the math circle. The new pilot program is encouraging students to solve real world problems and have creative fun applying basic math principles.
The free four week afterschool Math Circle program for third through fifth graders was offered at Luhrs Elementary school in the Shippensburg Area District. Organizers hope to expand the program to include other schools in the district. According to Bob Ziegenfuss, interim director at Luhrs, the goals are to “improve skills and the general attitude of mathematics.”
Since children don’t always connect math with real everyday use, Zigenfuss fells that it is important for them to reinforce basic skills, such as counting money. The objective is to have fun while they are acquiring practical skills.
Math Circles challenges students to solve math problems through fun activities. The Shippensburg program is organized by university faculty members Lance and Sarah Bryant. It is the only program of its kind in that area.
When students first enrolled, they completed a survey to show what they like and dislike about math. Then one day a week they met for four weeks, working on activities. The program accommodates both students who need extra help, and students who are interested in enrichment activities. At the end of the class, students will be surveyed again on their attitudes about math.
Some activities have included making 3D shapes out of Hallo9ween candy, predicting probabilities by playing a Native American stick game, and drawing an alien who did not have 10 fingers and imagining how it would count.