Making Fun and Games

Making Fun and Games
Posted on 06/01/2018
Making Fun and Games

The Math Carnival is one of the days that fifth-grade students at West Reading Elementary Center look forward to all year.

Created more than five years ago by math teachers Mrs. Erika Homan and Mr. Keith Arnold, the Math Carnival is designed to inspire excitement for math. The daylong event is broken into three sections—the outside carnival-like atmosphere, with 15 fun games; guest speakers; and fun math activities in non-math classes.

On the playground, the students race around the outdoor carnival, testing their math skills at as many game tables as possible. Parent volunteers are stationed at each game to explain the rules and record top scores.

One game, called Decimal Double Down, asked the player to choose a “Decimal Dare” from the table. These cards presented the student with a math problem. Once the student answered the math problem, he or she then had to complete a challenge using the answer, such as doing that number of jumping jacks in 30 seconds. Upon completion of that challenge, he or she chose a “Decimal Card.” is card presented the student with a math equation to be solved as quickly as possible.

Another game, called Fill in the Blanks, had the player draw a card that only had numbers on it. e player then had to determine which operation—addition, subtraction, division, multiplication—was needed to complete the equation. The catch? The player had to figure this out in less than a minute.

“This is a terrific way for kids to use the skills they have learned during the year,” says Mrs. Amy Smedley, a parent volunteer. “It really makes math fun.”

Three guest speakers donated their time to explain how they use math every day in their job. Eli Peters, from Mastercraft Woodworking Company, demonstrated how he uses math to develop an estimate to tell a potential client the cost to install kitchen cabinets. He showed the students a video of a machine that requires a person to key in the X and Y axes.

Minal Patel, PA-C, a gastroenterologist, explained to students how their doctor uses a growth curve and showed them the two formulas that can be used to calculate body mass index. She worked through an example with them.

Bill Gartner, director of research and development for Penske Racing Shocks, was a big hit with the students. His interactive presentation demonstrated how math is used to calculate the speed and other factors needed to produce high-quality shock absorbers.

In the afternoon, students were treated to hands-on math lessons in their non-math classes, such as restaurant and shopping math, probability, and coding.

It takes many hands to organize a successful Math Carnival. However, the look on a student’s face when they beat the high score at a game table is well worth the effort—especially when you know that they’re utilizing math knowledge without realizing it.