A recent article in Scientific American, The Sea Change in Science Education: Corporate Stakeholders Step Up, sparked some interest about making mathematics fun and relevant for real life application. Although the Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices (ITTIP) promotes interdisciplinary experiences that facilitate STEM learning, we also understand that sometimes that is not always possible. However, it is possible to make Math fun! The website, Figure This, tries to capture learners’ interests in math by posting challenges through short math problems relevant to real life questions and connects it to careers. But is this enough to make our children and students inspired and interested in mathematics?
A mom and astrophysicist, Laura Overdeck, captures the love of math and shares it with her development of Bedtime Math, launched in February 2012. Laura began by doing math problems with her children and when her youngest, a two year old, began to chime in with his own math problems, a light bulb went off for this mom. It was soon after that a children’s book, Bedtime Math was published. Next came the Bedtime Math website to help inspire bedtime math all the time! The Bedtime Math website has resources for parents to use at home with their children, specifically a Daily Math Problem. What started out as one mother’s idea, has turned out to be a team of experts fostering the love for mathematics. The authors post a daily math problem relative to real life situations illustrating an example where math is needed. The author also makes suggestions for questions or problems for children to solve based on age appropriateness: wee ones, little kids, big kids. Some problems even have more difficult questions that go along with the math problem noted with the text: The sky is the limit. The website additionally has ideas for families and a parent blog. Recently a parent blogger, Melanie Edwards, shared her ideas of how to use Household Objects for Easy Hands-On Math Fun on a post. Oh, and did we mention, there is an app for that? The Bedtime Math App is an easy way to solve the Problem of the Day or even explore other math problems. Although the Bedtime Math team is on to something great, there are also other ways to make math fun and relevant at home and at school.