Go For the Gold Part 2

By: Mary Kienstra on: February 27, 2014  in: current events, Discussion, Engagement, Math, Olympics

Today was the day!  I have always loved the Olympics and immersing my math students in these Winter Olympics seemed like a great way to show them math in the world.  All three of my classes (3rd, 4th, and 5th graders) have been researching a specific event and learning about how math is used.  Today they brought in all of their research.

I think they were expecting that they would stand in front of the class and read a list of information they had collected.  That might have been engaging for some of my students, but not enough to listen to everyone.  Instead, they presented their information in a different way.

Since students had chosen their Olympic event, we had an interesting assortment of events to present.  I grouped them according to the sport: snowboarding, skiing, figure skating, speed skating, ski jumping, curling, and hockey.  In each group, they created a collage or graffiti wall to show their information.  They looked over each others’ information and determined the importance of what they should include.  They designed a way to show their information on the chart paper, including the title, a symbol or picture, the venue, fun facts, and ways math is used in their sport. 

The results were amazing.  Each sport had contributions from all three classes.  Students observed what was already written on their collage and determined what they needed to add.  Everyone was engaged and discussing math.  

It is so important to bring real life events into class.  Kids need to realize that math is used in so many ways in so many different areas. Additionally, the connection between home and school is strengthened as kids talk about math class at home as well as bring information from home to school.  During the project, one of my students announced proudly that his homework that night was to watch TV – the Olympics.

Think about events going on around you.  How can you incorporate those into your class?  I hear my favorite mathematician, Greg Tang, is planning a new version of Kakooma with a March Madness twist. I know my students will love that!  Give it a try!

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