23 Mar, 2018
10 : 00
On March 14, Secondary students at Yew Chung International School of Beijing joined millions of students around the world in celebrating Pi Day. Held every year on March 14 (3.14), Pi Day is an international celebration of the beauty and importance of mathematics.
For this year’s activities, YCIS Beijing teamed up with the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival to transform the entire gymnasium into a maze of mathematics puzzles, as students competed against themselves to solve a collection of 18 fun and challenging games. The activities were chosen specifically because they had both a low floor and a high ceiling – with an easy entry point, they were accessible to all age levels of students, yet they could be extended for higher-level students as well.
The aim of Pi Day is to remind students of the importance of mathematics, but also of how fun it can be. Sharee Hebert, Secondary Mathematics Teacher at YCIS Beijing, explains more, including tips for parents to get their children excited about math, and outdoors math activities for the entire family this spring season!
Goal = (“I’m Not a Math Person”) – (“Not”)
Mathematics is one of the subjects in which there’s a strong correlation between one’s ability to do math and their excitement to do math; the better they feel that they are at the task, the more they enjoy doing it. So, if a student struggles in math class, they often begin to view mathematics as nothing more than frustrating problems on a page. Yet, as shown on Pi Day, the games that students played were also teaching them about math. Things like logical reasoning, manipulation of shapes, patterns, etc – these are all mathematics.
Math often gets a bad rap because people misperceive themselves as being poor in the subject and then announce that they’re “not a math person”. Yet a lot of the reason that people lose confidence in their math ability is because they have been equating speed with intelligence. But doing something fast doesn’t necessarily equal being skilled in it and doing something slowly certainly doesn’t mean a lack of ability. Pushing students to complete complex math problems in a short amount of time will only increase their anxiety towards the subject as a whole, when instead they should be competing against themselves – aiming not to beat the clock, but to improve on their own past performance.
Patterns in the Park
To encourage mathematics learning in children, it’s important to reiterate that the most important first step is for parents to never announce that they themselves are not a math person. The next step is to begin to reframe math as something fun, and there’s endless opportunities for parents to do so.
As the spring season has arrived, taking your children to the park is activity that also lends itself to fun math activities. Shapes and patterns are part of mathematics, and they can be found everyway in the park or in nature.
Year 6 students are currently working on a project doing just that – spending class lessons in neighboring Honglingjin Park to study the patterns and shapes there. As a part of the YCIS Beijing Character Education Programme, students are creating bilingual geometry books to give to Seeds of Hope Schools, based on shapes found in the park. This is just one of an endless amount of ways that mathematics learning can be made fun and engaging for students.