Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Interesting Approach to Deeper Understanding of Multiplication Facts

This summer I am participating in a book study, How the Brain Learns Mathematics 2nd Edition, and we have been discussing the importance of memorizing multiplication tables. So while I was at the the Museum of Science in Boston last week I was excited to find a balance that can be used to help students gain better conceptual understanding of the basic multiplication facts. I was so excited with the possibilities of this device that I have tried to explain what it does but have not done a great job! So I hope that by providing the pictures I took while I was "playing" with the balance I can clear up the confusion about how this works.

 When I looked at the example I thought this may be a way to help students develop number sense.

Then I began to think about how the balance beam could be used to help students with the basic multiplication facts. 

So, I began to play . . .  
6 times 2 balances with 3 times 4

10 times 2 balances with 4 times 5

Then I thought how many different ways could I balance 10 times 2?
10 times 2 balances with 5 times 4

10 times 2 balances with (5 times 2 + 10 times 1)

Now I changed it up a bit to also include addition!

10 times 2 balances with (2 times 6 + 8 times 1)

10 times 2 balances with (2 times 6 + 4 times 2)
I had to stop playing to give others a turn!

My questions are:

  1. Can the balance beam be used as I have demonstrated?
  2. Would this type of activity help students with understanding multiplication? 

Sousa, David A. How the Brain Learns Mathematics. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2015. Print.

A Day of Math in Boston!

I spent two full days in Boston last week with my husband, daughter and her fiancĂ©.  Boston is a great city to visit so much history. This was my second trip to Boston my first trip was in April this year to the NCTM National Conference.

My daughter and fiancé gave us tickets to the U2 Concert in Boston for Christmas. Although I enjoyed the concert and had a wonderful time the highlight of the trip for me occurred the following day when we went to the Museum of Science

Entrance to the Exhibit
An ad for an exhibit at The Museum of Science, The Science Behind Pixar, caught my attention! My husband and I changed our plans and headed across the street to the use the train to get to the Museum. When we arrived it was wonderful to see so many excited children. Summer Camps were in full swing and  at least a dozen groups of students were there already. But, I saw young people engaged in activities (learning), excited to be interacting with the exhibits, and most stuck with an activity until they figured it out (perseverance).
 I would recommend planning a good portion of your time at the Museum to go through the exhibit. The exhibit uses interactive stations to help students understand how the movies go from and idea to a film. At each station there are also videos of people who work at Pixar explaining what they do during each stage of the process in making the film.

It is great that images like these are included they show students how 3D plotting is used to create the characters. I could go on and on about all the relevant MATH I found in this exhibit but I will break up the posts and include pictures and videos.

My husband was kind enough to demonstrate the 3D Plotting Interactive while I recorded.