Did you know that while few numbers are perfect, many others are friendly? Explore the marvelous world of mathematics by becoming a real mathematics researcher instead of a human calculating machine. Among the math we’ll investigate are palindrome numbers, number patterns, pentominos, and fractals. We will actively test mathematical ideas and concepts by making diagrams, charts and tables and using calculators and computers.
“I never knew *math* could be so interesting”
“I don’t care where my math class is as long as I have it somewhere.”
Numberworks is a creative math workshop. It is a chance for kids to see important ideas of mathematics in a way that is accessible to them. It is a chance for them to become real mathematics researchers rather than human calculating machines. They actively test ideas by making diagrams, charts, and tables, and by using calculators and computers. I look to tap into kids’ natural curiosity while giving them room to ask their own questions and to move in the direction these questions take them.
This math is for all levels of ability. It is for kids who are curious about number, pattern, and order. I don’t say “for kids who like math” because I’ve found that some kids who are bored by the rote drills taught in school are interested in exploring patterns and discovering relationships. One of my 2nd-graders was reluctant about math. He was the student who later said that he would go anywhere to have class.
How does this change come about? By encouraging exploration. Instead of just memorizing 9×7, one student wanted to combine 9 and 7 in all possible ways: +, -, x, /. He was then interested to learn that there are other ways to combine numbers, such as 97. This gets into the use of a calculator and lots of amazement at how big numbers can get. Then we can try combining 3 numbers and watch the possibilities grow. He wasn’t allowed to mess around with numbers at school, now not only is he allowed but also encouraged and shown new ideas to play with.
I also have kids work with computer programs to investigate numbers and help them to write their own simple programs. There is a lot of fascination in getting the next step in a pattern or exploring to see how far a pattern can go.
Some of the things we work on are infinite series, Fibonacci numbers, palindrome numbers, prime numbers, combinations, geometric constructions, and logic puzzles. We start in the context of problems involving real-life objects and ideas and move to more abstract areas. Along the way we work on the principles of creative problem-solving:
—There are many ways to solve a problem. It is important to consider several strategies and to select one which appears to be most helpful.
—We can’t make mistakes: there are only interesting diversions with unexpected discoveries and new questions.
—Mathematical talent is most evident when we draw graphs and pictures, when we look for patterns, and when we say “I’ll try something and see what happens.”
This is not a large group workshop; it is more like private study developing the talents and interests of each student. I work primarily with students 2nd-grade and up.
There are a few possible venues for this program. I used to hold these in peoples’ homes for their child and a few friends. Pricing for this option is $15 per student per week for a session of up to 75 minutes with a minimum of 5 and maximum of 8 students.
This has also been held as an afterschool enrichment class in weekly sessions of up to 75 minutes. Pricing is $10 per student for each weekly session. Ideally this would be a set of at least 3 sessions. I can work with up to 12 students in this setting with a minimum of 6. There will be less opportunity for in-depth individual attention, but it can be a more economical option. I think the trade-off is worth it to provide kids some of this experience.
It can be modified to be an in-class workshop. In this case we would concentrate on one topic. My Nature’s Designs program looks at Fibonacci Numbers. The choice of topic will in part be determined by the availability of calculators or computers for the students. Many interesting topics can be done without computer or calculator, though. My standard program rates from the main program page would apply for this option.
In the past, I have worked at schools as an enrichment teacher using the Renzoulli revolving door model. We can discuss the possibility of enacting something like this at your school.
Contact me with this form or call 413-267-4757
Additional details are at the bottom of the main programs page