Tuesday, January 2, 2018

1/2 Math for a New Year (2018)

It was a good winter break. I took off some time from work to spend with my family, my parents flew in, we hosted a New Year's Party for a large group of friends and I recruited new students and problems for the start of this term.

First, recruitment went really well. Beyond a student I lost after the first few weeks, I only had one not return and I picked up five new students including two girls.  I'm now at 15 [Update: 17 because its hard to say no] which was my target level for this year.  As of today, I finally have two seventh graders, my really great core group of eighth graders and a significant chunk of the sixth grade Algebra I class.  I think this is a great springboard for next year. Based on my previous experience when a club starts up you usually have spotty upper grades initially but the younger kids stick with you and and a few years later the kids keep bubbling up to form a solid program.

To start things off, I went through my normal first day routines. I had every kid introduce themselves and talk about either why they had joined or what their favorite activity was from last quarter. Interestingly this time, the most mentioned item was the MOEMS contest followed by several of the puzzles we did (which is a big change from previous years.)  I'm happy with that but my goal is the next time to have one of more math circle topic days be picked. We also went through my abbreviated discussion of the club charter and procedures.

Over the last few weeks I've been collecting 2018 themed problems and planned to mostly work on that vein. (This is the second time I've done this: see http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/110-new-years-celebration.html) But to start things off I wanted to do a game. Since I didn't find anything new that struck my fancy I went back to Buzz, a choral counting game.  Rules  As usual we did some demos as a large group to learn the rules and then I split the group in half and let the kids run two circles at once.  Everyone seemed to be having fun so once this was going I turned my back to write some problems on the whiteboard to prep for the next section. To my chagrin, a few minutes later I sensed something was wrong and turned around to see one of the students was worked up and unhappy. The stress of getting the numbers right even in completely no-stakes group situation was just too much. So I took her aside and after trying to console her decided I'd bring the whole thing to a close after after the current round ended.  I'm still processing what happened since I've done this before and everyone usually really enjoys the game.  At this point, based on my experience with her over the fall, I decided to breakout the art/calendar project I had brought along and had the student work on getting a demo one setup for everyone else. Fortunately, that worked as well as I had hoped and by the end of the day there were some smiles again.

The calendar is actually a pretty cool dodecohedron.  Source: https://t.co/VYU7IsPzPL

I didn't have enough scissors to have everyone do it at once so I always had planned to have a craft station going during the next section of time with kids dropping in when there were tools available to use.

New Year Math

For the main activity we started by factoring 2018. Before the kids got going I had everyone volunteer how to go through the process to make sure the kids  had a solid idea of what to do. Once I let them start, they broke out into several self organized groups mostly working on the whiteboard. I had one new student who wanted to work alone which while totally fine I'm also a little nervous about when I don't know them well. So I tried to consciously drop in a lot and check on what they were doing to make sure everything was going okay. 

Here are the problems I chose:

The Red Square has an area of 2018, the Blue has an area of 900 What is dimension of the green rectangle?


This one is done as a mental math challenge only.

[@denise gaskins]

(one of the whiteboards with several kids work on it)

I also wrote out a few of the following fun facts from the set below and stopped everyone in the middle to show some of the interesting 2018 trivia:

((2+0+1)×8×(2⁰+1+8)+2⁰-1+8+2+0+1)×8+2⁰+1+8 = 2018 10×9×8×7÷6÷5×4×3+2×1 = 2018 1×2×34+5×6×(7×8+9) = 2018* 98+7×6+5⁴×3+2+1 = 2018* (*via ) • 2018 = 2×1009 • 2+1009 = 1011 • 1011₂ = 11₁₀ • 11 = 2+0+1+8

Overall this portion flowed really well. The new group dynamics seem to be gelling. Finally, I gave out a sample MOEMS test for the problem of the week since I need to do the next round next week.

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