Welcome to Somerville Mathematics

Welcome to Somerville Mathematics, a blog devoted to exciting mathematical things happening in Somerville MA. I am the founder of The Somerville Mathematics Fund, www.Somervillemathematicsfund.org
The Math Fund was chartered to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville. I hope you will check out my TEDxSomerville talk on the Somerville Math Fund,
I find that there are many other interesting things happening mathematically in Somerville and I hope on this blog to have others share what they are doing. So please contact me at mathfund@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an article.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring is here and so are More Math Nights!

If you haven’t attended or volunteered at a math night, you’ve missed out on a wonderful intergenerational event. For years, I’ve tried to attend these events when I know about them ahead of time. In March, I was able to get to at least part of the West Somerville Neighborhood School celebration but, unfortunately, not to the East Somerville Community School celebration. Of course, I attended the celebration of Pi described in this blog below in “The Somerville Community Celebrates Pi Day” since I was one of the co-planners of that evening.

However this year, Delia Marshall was able to get to each of these events and has written about them on the Somerville Journal website . The West Somerville Neighborhood School K-2nd family math night, organized by Annette Bassett, was “packed to the gills.” One could hardly move around the cafeteria were kids were intently playing mathematical games with parents and a few grandparents. There was excitement in the air as the children tried to teach their parents how to play. All the activities were mathematically based--everything from using basic counting and computational skills to geometry to strategy. You can read all about it, “Big Numbers at WSNS Night” in the article by Delia Marshall.

The next day, the East Somerville Community School held its celebration of math for 3rd and 4th grade families organized by Linda Wiegenfeld and Laura Bonnell. This well-attended event had a slightly different format. While the students played mathematical games and worked on mathematical challenges, the parents learned about their children’s math --contrasting it to their own experiences and learning how to help their children now. This reminded me of one of the first math grants The Somerville Mathematics Fund awarded, back in 2001 to Mary McClellan for a mathematical resource lending library for middle school parents at the East Somerville Community School--parents wanted, but weren’t always sure, how to help their children in mathematics, today’s math was so different from their own school experiences--a different creative response to a similar problem. Last year I attended the ESCS math event and, if this was anything like that afternoon, it was an experience well-worthwhile for everyone ... high energy excitement about mathematics. Delia Marshall captures the spirit and details of the event in “March Mathness” at ESCS.

At each of these events, many teachers at each school came out and volunteered their own time for an exciting math event outside of the regular school day which gave families a better understanding of what their children were doing mathematically and how they might help, encourage and play with their children.

If you’d like attend a family math night, there are two events still to occur this spring (readers, please let me know about any others). At least one, I know, always welcomes volunteers; so let me know if you are interested in volunteering (voolich@aol.com).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two Teachers who are excited about math win "Teacher of the Year" awards from the Somerville Teachers Association

By Erica Dakin Voolich

Fourth grade teachers Linda Wiegenfeld from the East Somerville Community School at Edgerly and Fran Carino from the Winter Hill Community School were each named Teacher of the Year by the Somerville Teachers Association in March. Fran is a Mathematics Curriculum Leader and each participants in the LEGO Project at Tufts University to introduce LEGOes as a way to teach science to elementary students. Linda is also a teacher winner of Somerville Mathematics Fund teacher grants supporting the mathematics work she is doing at ESCS.

When asked about receiving the award, Linda said
“I was honored to receive the award of Teacher of the Year. It was of special significance to me that the award covered the year of the fire - a very difficult year. I've been teaching for a long time but still haven't lost my passion for education. I love working in Somerville, where there have been so many opportunities to explore new ways to help students. My current projects are working with the special education inclusion committee, participating in a program from Tufts University to use LEGOes in the classroom to teach science, and serving as a Curriculum Team Leader. I occasionally write educational articles for a newspaper called The Epoch Times. I feel very lucky to have a job that suits my personality and where I can make a difference.”

and Fran said:
“I am also very proud of this award. For most of my teaching career I have taught in Somerville. Currently, I teach 4th grade at the WHCS. I am the Math Curriculum Team Leader and the PTA Treasurer. In all three roles I am able to reach out to our parents helping them to be involved in their children's education on a daily basis. As I mentioned at the award ceremony, I grew up in Somerville and my inspiration to teach came from two Somerville teachers, my kindergarten and fifth grade teachers, Mrs. Rita Fitzpatick and Mr. Paul Coakley, respectively. I hope that in my role as teacher I can inspire my students to reach for their dreams and to work hard to fulfill them.”

It is wonderful to have Somerville teachers who are excited about mathematics, winning awards for the work they are doing in our community.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Here's what we did for Pi Day at our school, the West Somerville Neighborhood School

by Annette Bassett

In grades 7,and 8, the students made key chains using gimp, then attached a length of beads color coded for the first 40 digits in Pi.
They are wearing them on their backbacks and jeans.

The 6th grade also made a Pi bead bracelet following a similar color code. They used a larger bead to begin Pi. The sixth grade also did a Pi activity using bagels and recited Pi poetry!

In the 7th and 8th grade math classes the teacher ran a Pi
trivia contest and did math problem solving activities with Pi. The
winners of the Pi trivia contest won a pizza pie. We also listen to
and watched, on the smart board, the music video; "Loose Yourself in
the Digits" by Pi Diddy
. It depicts students at Vancover High School
during their Pi reciting contest. (The kids loved that!)

Then the entire 6th 7th and 8th grade student body had apple pie for dessert with their lunch, which was made by Somerville High School's culinary arts program!

As the CTL-Math, I facilitated the activities with the 6,7, and 8th grade teachers and support staff. A really fun day!