March 16, 2022 | Shakeh Tashjian
At Mustard Seed School, we celebrate I ❤️ Math Day on March 14, also known as 𝛑 day. Students were reminded that there are people whose careers are devoted to the discovery of patterns in the digits of this special number. Mathematics exists in daily life, and for some, it is their life. They explore, communicate, adjust, present, and repeat this work over and over again.
What better way to celebrate the problem-solving, iterative, collaborative, and communicative aspects of mathematics than with a rich problem of their own to solve? After a brief preview of the challenging and accessible problem, students used math as a tool to collaboratively and explain their understanding of the representation of the problem. Students collaborated with a team; each group had students from 4th – 8th grade. Some groups used paper and pencil, while others used sticks or marbles, and others used their bodies. The entire experience was a beautiful group effort.
The students were so motivated that they needed reminders to wait to get to their groups to start their thinking. There was a buzz surrounding the groups, even though we were outside in the park. Even the teachers could not resist joining the brainstorming sessions. They were excitedly testing their hypotheses and verbally processing their ideas with one another. In the end, all the groups were able to describe the patterns and even answer the higher-level challenge questions that were posed. I could not have been prouder of everyone’s contribution and achievement.
To conclude our day of fun, I announced the names of the students who estimated the number of items (Legos, marbles, pompoms, puzzle pieces, and candy pieces) in the estimation jars. Their rewards were a handshake or a hug, recognition in front of the group, and- most of all- the joy of a job well done. At the end of the day, everyone’s reward was engaging in the joy of math.