Contributed by Lisa Walburger, Mountain View School
Mountain View School held their first ever Math Fair on Thursday May 17 In an effort to help parents better understand how deep mathematical thinking takes students. Unlike a Science Fair, a Math Fair is all inclusive and noncompetitive and based on problem solving.
Every student from Kindergarten - grade 9 partnered with another student and challenged parents mathematical thinking abilities by guiding them through complex mathematical problems.
Our math curriculum, the “new math,” focuses on developing mathematical mindsets. In classrooms we work to create mathematical thinkers whose goal isn’t to figure out which formula to apply and simply find an answer. Rather, in a thinking classroom, math students are presented with more ambiguous problems and they are asked to find multiple ways to solve them.
In a thinking classroom, students focus on the process of solving the problem rather than just the answer. This focus on the process is what creates mathematical mindsets or mathematical thinkers. Ultimately, the same kids that parents worry about knowing relevant math, can probably not only solve a problem using an algorithm- like the Pythagorean theorem- but also explain to you why the Pythagorean theorem exists. Likely, no one ever had to give them the formula, they figured it out for themselves using their knowledge of circle and triangle properties.
"Math Fair was clearly a huge success!” said Judy Martin, from the University of Calgary, who has been a math consultant with MVS over the past year. “Students were exceptional and clearly engaged. Thank you [to Mountain View School] for all your hard work, tenacity and efforts… you made math magical for many students and gave them the power of conversing, thinking , and discussing the “why” of their work.”