Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Preparing for the new Quarter

Next Tuesday will be the first session of Math club for this quarter. As a result, I'm in the last stages of planning this week. One monkey wrench for me is that the next MOEMS Olympiad was released yesterday. Fortunately, they are very lenient about when you administer the contest so I will not have to do it on the first day back. Which is lucky because I like the first day to be relaxed and focused on setting expectations.

Demographics

This time around I ended up with 18 students and a wait list of 2.  7 of these kids are new this session. Once again it mostly skews towards fourth grade with a few fifth graders thrown in. I assume that core group will probably now continue into next year. So I'm half expecting to be imbalanced again towards fifth grade in my third year.  I also have mostly boys unlike last year. So I sent some emails to the teachers I know  asking if they'd encourage more girls to apply next quarter. We'll see if that helps the gender imbalance. We'll also find out how manageable the larger group size is.

Problems

There have a lot of interesting puzzles I've seen go by in the few weeks. @Five_triangles has been tweeting a few.  Then @CmonMattTHINK  had this cool  worksheet: https://twitter.com/CmonMattTHINK/status/677481510602186752.   

@daveinstpaul uploaded this amazing sketch recently. This shows the relationship between a 30-60-90 triangle and a hexagon. I hadn't seen/thought of this connection before and I find it really beautiful. I almost have enough extensions on this theme for a day now see (http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/06/random-geometry-recursion.html)



Finally in my intro mail I gave out an encoded message for the kids to crack:

"nqougeq kg eykb uocm'f nwjkql acylkql, w'e oggvwjx sglnylr kg fqqwjx qhqlzgjq slge oyfk kweq yf nqoo yf kbq jqn vwrf nbg nwoo mq igwjwjx cf. ws zgc ylq ymoq kg lqyr kbwf eqffyxq, fqjr eq y jgkq myuv nwkb zgcl syhglwkq kzpq gs uyjrz."

I'm waiting to see if anyone solves it or not. [Update: One student so far has already written back after cracking it]

Volunteering

One of the ways I'm trying to scale up is by being more organized about volunteers. So in my intro letter which resembles the one I sent last time: http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/09/procedural-updates.html I'm using a shared google doc spreadsheet for volunteers. This seems like the easiest way to encourage people to commit to a particular date and to cover all the dates. Hopefully, everyone who pre-committed will actually signup and I will find enough people to round everything out.

First Session

With so many new students coming in I'm thinking about the importance of the initial charter talk.  I have my skeleton notes here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=18NknKDOhmR5AX09RpLEFpli1IAL9F10W2UdVRT1i9VA  As with last session the 3 key points I aim to cover are basic behavior, listening to others when they talk and handling when you get stuck.

 Beyond that I want to balance out the rest of the time with fun activities. I have a binary addition algorithm exercise  I tried that involves using people as digit/places which I'm considering doing again. I'' see if I find another binary system problem to pair with it.  Alternatively, I'm also thinking about more tangram based puzzles that would pair well with Math Enlow's worksheet.

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