Last week, the Waterford Math department hosted its first Math-a-palooza: a celebration of mathematical games, problems, and puzzles for middle school students. The math faculty transformed the school’s 400s building; balloons lined the hallways; math problems were affixed to the walls; classrooms were full of mathematically inclined board games or card games; the library overflowed with logical and mathematical puzzles. Students teamed up with peers from different sections of math, supporting community and connection between grade levels and sections. The documentary Between the Folds: The Science of Art, The Art of Science played in a classroom for students to see the connections between math and art. Students filled out their Math-a-palooza passports with stickers to show engagement with a variety of activities. Students then presented these passports in the school’s Math Lab to talk to a math teacher about their experience and choose prizes ranging from mini Rubiks cubes to candy.
“The goals of the Math-a-palooza were to provide an opportunity for middle school students to have fun doing math, to see math as more than computations and skills, to work with students from other classes and levels and to engage deeply with some new mathematical content.”
- Nancy Woller, Math Department Chair
And — it was just plain fun. Math faculty member Tyler Waterhouse notes, “It was great fun watching students working cooperatively and finding joy while working on non-traditional math problems.” Students agreed. It is fantastic to see the friendships grow across divisions as Elliot B. (Class VI) and Evan L. (Class XII) now meet regularly in the math lab to play games. Elliot reports, "My brain just wants to try all of the games."