Making math fun for kids

From Thailand to Tiffin, Math Camp 2019 has a group of Heidelberg students and more than 30 local fourth- and fifth-graders super excited about math.

On Saturday, March 30, 27 ‘Berg education and math majors, under the leadership of students Jenn Thayer, Noah Messerall, Lauren Nichols, Lindsey Robinson, Anna Cavanaugh and Samantha Bennet, conducted a day of fun and interactive math-related activities for the students at Noble Elementary School.

Earlier this semester, the ‘Berg students held a similar Math Camp on campus as a sort of dress rehearsal for the event at Noble. The elementary students attend Noble’s after-school program every day to address their math and literacy developmental needs, Jenn said. Heidelberg’s junior Methods students facilitate this program one day per week using Math Camp concepts while intentionally connecting to the math content standards and areas of need as described by the classroom teachers.

For Math Camp at Noble, students were divided into groups with two student leaders to form “families,” each named after a famous mathematician. “Each family has a team dance/song that their leaders teach them and the students perform throughout the day,” Noah explained.

The families participated in activities such as Brain Challenge, Relay Race, Math Art, Math Fishing, Tic-Tac-Toe Race, Steal the Bacon, Geometry Sudoku and Math Showdown, among others.

The overall goal was to get the young children excited about math, Jenn said. “We provided the students reinforcement and practice with math content, mathematical problem solving and collaboration,” she said. “We wanted the students to have a positive experience with education to try to increase their motivation to learn.”

And it worked. The ‘Berg students were able to watch first-hand how the students’ engagement in math improved by using games instead of worksheets. “The kids arrived tired and not excited to be there, but we had to make them leave at the end of the day,” Jenn said.

For Noah, seeing the children delight in learning math was worth the effort of taking Math Camp on the road. “I love seeing kids have fun, laugh and build relationships with peers while engaging in academic learning,” he said. “The whole Math Camp experience opened my eyes to the possibilities of active learning and showed me how to make math fun for kids.”

Math Camp has its origins in Thailand. A group of Bowling Green State University students experienced it first-hand there and brought it back to their campus, where HU student leaders learned about it in October. They adapted BGSU’s Math Camp at Heidelberg in January, and now, there are plans to expand it to possibly three additional local elementary schools next year.

Faculty advisors are Dr. Lindsey Haubert and Dr. Dawn Henry.


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