Friday, November 28, 2014

Learning math is fun to the nth degree

Ella Del Favero, 7, works out a math problem using colored cubes during Sunday's math workshop at the Stephens Branch Library. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | July 24, 2013 |

While some kids are whiling away the summer hours playing in Little League tournaments or going to summer camps, others are spending their summers in a completely different way: inside, doing math.

Families were invited to participate in various math-related activities at the Yolo County Library on Sunday, including building marble pyramids and cube towers. The workshop was led by Chelsea Ransom Le, a math educator who has taught in settings including elementary classrooms and Davis High School.

In addition, each table had one or two UC Davis student volunteers to answer questions or talk through the problems with workshop participants.

“Sometimes you learn about things by talking them through,” Le said.

Nathan Sweet, 12, said that he was having fun working through the problems. Although Sweet had done math workshops at Merryhill Elementary School, the workshop on Sunday was the first one he had done through the city.

“This is a great exercise,” said Haiyong Li, whose 5 1/2-year-old son, Randy, attended the workshop. “He hasn’t really gotten the mathematical ideas yet, but he can see the patterns.”

Le explained that she organized the workshop out of a love for math, and especially math education.  She added that many people have an aversion to math and that she, as a math educator, wishes to make math accessible to a wide audience.

“A lot of times people say, ‘I’m not good at math’ or ‘Oh, this person’s good at math,’ but the problem with this way of thinking is that our self-perceptions entirely influence our way of thinking and our performance,” Le said. “What I love about math education is making it accessible and engaging to a wide audience … in other words, making it fun.”

She later added, “When people are having fun, they’re not thinking about, ‘Am I good at this’ or ‘Can I do this or not?’ ”

Le also noted that the various hands-on activities in the workshop were designed for a wide range of ages. Younger kids, she explained, learn to start counting by numbers other than one and develop skills in spatial and visual development. Other, more experienced students learn skills including taking a non-numerical models and applying numbers to the model, she said.

In addition to designing activities for a wide audience, Le also made sure to organize a workshop that was open-ended and inquiry-driven.

“Math is not about knowing how to solve problems,” she said. “It’s a tool for solving problems, and helps us look at things systematically. Making the (workshop) interactive and inquiry-driven is a way of using the math and thinking mathematically while having fun.”

Le hopes to organize a math workshop every month for the next year. The next workshop will run from 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Explorit Science Center, 3141 Fifth St. This workshop will be run in conjunction with Explorit. Participants will be working to see how many symmetric polyhedra they can make and will have the opportunity to attend a fundraiser at 3 p.m. for $5. There will also be another workshop from 10:15 a.m. to noon on Sept. 21 in the Blanchard Room in the Stephens Branch Library.

“Math is a language that has particular uses for describing, organizing and helping us understand our world,” Le said. “As with any language development, we learn it by using it.”





Shop-local focus highlights Small Business Saturday

By Bob Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Looking for the gift of life

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

The artistic process of a neighborhood legend

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Davis MRAP didn’t go far: Woodland

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Explorit: Water expert will speak Dec. 15

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

Ceremony Tuesday celebrates MU bus terminal

By Dave Jones | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Enterprise holiday decorating contest is back

By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: A4

Free bike clinic, ride set Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Locals come through for families in need

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Travel the world at Logos Books

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Dormant-season pruning tips offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Junior high students set walkathon fundraiser

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Horse owners needed for online survey

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Flyway Nights talk focuses on sea otters of Elkhorn Slough

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Chamber of Commerce lays out 5-year plan

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Students come together for sustainability

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Workshop will answer financial aid questions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Holiday gifts galore available at crafts fair

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Shakespeare folio discovered in France

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Wolks share their unique perspective on Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Christmas Bird Count workshop planned Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Watch, then make, a holiday floral decoration

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9



Many thanks for a great benefit

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

It all started at the bookstore

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

What can we do to help?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

What if we really need it?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Tom Elias: Utilities look to soak small users

By Tom Elias | From Page: A6

Cheers and Jeers: Thankfully, no jeers

By Our View | From Page: A6



Seahawks shut down San Francisco

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Aggies out-Fox Utah State after dramatic Les shot to forces overtime

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Defense, depth lead Aggie women to home win

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Youth roundup: 10 titles for the Diamonds Level 3 gymnastics squad

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4 | Gallery





Mumbo Gumbo plays for post-Thanksgiving dance party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

‘Horrible Bosses 2′: Fire ‘em all!

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery



Sonata evolves into more sophisticated car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery



John Walter Neves Jr.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



Comics: Friday, November 28, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B3

Comics: Friday, November 28, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: A10