Math FUN at Steele Elementary School

Almost 300 children and adults convened at Steele Elementary School near Washington Park in Denver on Tuesday, March 17th, for an evening of math games, lots of math learning and loads of fun in an auditorium filled with "Math in the Real World" exhibits. Resident Jeff Larson and PI Mike Jacobson participated in the event and represented the UCD GK-12. The following is a reflection by Mr. Larson: "At our booth, we had two engaging activities for the students. We had sets of colored blocks for students to play the game "Instant Insanity" (a puzzle where the 4 blocks must be stacked in a column so that each side shows each of the four colors). For some of the younger kids, the goal was a little two abstract, but they had fun stacking and knocking over the blocks. There were two kids who really took to the game. They spent over a half an hour at our booth, attempting to solve the puzzle. I was surprised at their perseverance, and I was happy to engage.

The most popular activity at our table was Mobius strips. The kids were mildly interested in seeing one-sided objects, but they were blown away after cutting them down the middle. (If you don't know, cutting a Mobius strip down the middle results in a single two-sided object, not two different Mobius strips like most people expect.) Most of the children were slack-jawed and wide-eyed. I asked, "What did you do? I thought you cut it down the middle." Most kids tried again with similar results, and even more confusion. We then cut the strip a third of the way in from the edge, which results in 2 different objects linked together. I had to help some kids with their scissor skills, but those who could be patient enough were blown away. It was a night that recharged my passion for teaching. It was great to work with kids and show them that math can be fun and still stimulating."