Maths is all around us, underpinning everything in the universe, yet many of us are fearful of numbers. But maths can be fun! That was the message from two energetic presenters at the Magnificent Maths event in Byford on the 11th June. And after an hour of jumping, clapping, card playing and shape making, we'd have to agree. Michelle Wong of maths teaching business, Bustaburpee, kicked the event off sharing her novel and untraditional approach to maths.
Michelle, a teacher of 15 years and a fitness trainer, has combined physical movement and maths to develop new ways to engage children in everyday maths concepts. She encouraged children and adults to tap mathematical rhythms and develop dance moves; we flossed, we dabbed and most of all had fun. Michelle is an energetic presenter who kept the pace going, sharing ideas to develop mathematical skills in children and building confidence with numbers. Her ideas to help with bedtime routine using maths as well as the difference learning style of boys and girls, hit home with many parents. She made links with maths and everyday activities to encourage children to be comfortable with numbers. Her energy was contagious, and I'd love to see her ideas being implemented in schools.
Jacinta Blencowe, schools outreach officer for the Australia Mathematical Sciences Institute, discussed the difficulty of people learning maths from children to adulthood. She stressed that it is critical adults do not pass on their own discomfort and fear of maths to their children. Jacinta showed with real life examples that maths is all around us and part of our everyday lives. She shared a number of engaging games and strategies to develop maths skills; using cards, dice, string and lego. She stressed the need to allow children to become conformable handling money from a young age, as well as playing games that passively teaches maths skills. Jacinta's passion for maths is apparent and she had most of the audience, children and adults alike, shouting out numbers with our card games.
Both presenters discussed the drop in mathematical skills in western countries over the last few years, and new efforts to improve this using more novel and fun approaches.
We are born mathematicians dealing with maths in everything we do in our daily lives; from buying food, playing sports or music, to gazing at a rainbow. Jacinta and Michelle did a fantastic job of showing us the beauty of maths and demonstrating the ease with which we can all do it.