Dan Shapiro is the founder of two software companies, has worked at Microsoft and Google, and is the proud dad of four-year-old boy/girl twins. He’s the creator of Robot Turtles, a tabletop board game that teaches computer programming concepts to kids ages 3-8. Dan uses math as a programmer, a business owner, and as a dad. He generously shared five thoughts about math.
If you hang around the under 5 crowd, you know they don’t have a great grasp of time. Whether it’s rising at 5:30 AM ready to roll for the day or whining in the car, “Are we there yet?” it’s clear their understanding of time is lacking. The Two-Minute Olympics, clocked by a sand-timer, provides a fun way to literally watch the minutes go by and help little ones build an understanding of time.
With some toy cars and a few simple, inexpensive materials, you can build ramps and incline tunnels with your kids to study the effects of incline on velocity.
Ramps can be constructed with rain gutters (which you can pick up from any home supply store for about $5), cardboard mailing tubes, or paper towel tube rolls that have been cut in half length-wise. Pool noodles can also work with the smallest toy cars or, if they are too narrow, you can use marbles, instead of cars. Create at least two ramps of the same length. First, give your child some time to set up the ramps and race cars down. Then ask, “What do you think will happen if one of the ramps is higher?”
Practice and memorization play a role in learning math, but there’s nothing wrong with having a few tricks up your sleeve too. Provide your kids with simple tips and tricks they can apply when multiplying to make the process easy and fun. Here are 5 great tips:
In “Toe tapping math” we were introduced to the notion that music is math. We can find math in intervals, measures, steps, beats and rhythms. In fact, music without math would probably just be noise. But what if we flip that around – is math music? What connects the two in our brains?
Susan Cahalane, a research scientist turned elementary school science teacher, writes about fun science experiments and activities on her blog, Science for Kids. Today on Add It Up, she shares thoughts on raising kids who love math and being a positive role model for girls.
String art combines geometry and the creative process to form complex-looking designs that are fairly simple to make. It’s a math craft with staying power. Bonus: making string art also boosts vocabulary, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Gender and cultural barriers in math education have lessened since I was a student (and definitely since generations before), but there are still improvements to be made. I earned an engineering degree which means I took a lot of math courses in high school and college. I was often the only female and in many cases, the only person of color, in many of my classes. Rather than discourage me, it motivated me to succeed – not only for myself, but for my future children. I felt a need to push beyond barriers to benefit future generations.
In an earlier post I recommended seeking out mathematicians you already know and finding people your children can be introduced to who use mathematics in their jobs. My Ace-in-the-Hole is Tracey Annable, owner a full service custom design, fabrication and installation company for home decor. Tracey is someone who is handy to have around, whether you are trying to figure out how to mitre a corner or help your kid work through a calculus problem.
Origami, the ancient Japanese art of folding papers into shapes and artful forms, continues to evolve and attract new artists into the, ahem, fold. Origami requires spatial reasoning skills, thinking in three dimensions. It builds an understanding of geometric shapes and geometric concepts. It’s also creative and fun.