“Pure mathematics is in its way, the poetry of logical ideas”
~Albert Einstein

If you stopped by the math boot camp last week you would have seen this “poetry of logical ideas” put into practice by our amazing Valley Oaks staff. The third graders were involved in learning multiple methods to solve math problems.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go with my wife, Kathy, to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference. The math educators began the conference with the example that learning verb conjugations in Spanish class will not help you learn Spanish unless you apply it outside the classroom and the same is true in math. With that opening, the majority of the conference seminars were on the practical application of math such as learning slope and scatter plots by attaching a Barbie doll to a series of rubber bands and launch her off a wall (“Barbie Bungee”) to “Using NASA Press Releases to Develop Integrated STEM lessons”. All of these are on the free NCTM under the “Illuminations” section.

Last week, with the exhortation from the math conference and inspiration of our own VOCS teachers I did the following:
1. Used the “Barbie Bungee” lesson with students in Lake Isabella (I used a Rock em’ Sock em’ Robot instead of a Barbie).
2. Taught ratios to our Tehachapi students using a Megladon shark tooth.
3. Did estimation/graphing/measurement with a marsh mellow rocket launcher.

If you get stuck on how to apply a math lesson, check out the illuminations.nctm.org web site, brain storm with the VOCS teachers, and think of math as a poem that flows with logical ideas.