By Ousmane Diallo, Sira Kaba, and Joyce Kouami
Newark -- On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Dr. Greenstein, a professor of Mathematics Education at Montclair State University, visits Mr. Kabbani’s 4th grade Math class and introduces “Race to 20” and “The Folding Game” to the students. Although the games might sound simple, there are interesting twists and complexities that make the games unique. Dr. Greenstein discussed the important dynamics of the games and kept the 4th graders very interested.
Dr. Greenstein made his first impression on the 4th graders by saying he was “doing some ‘math-y’ stuff today,”. The 4th graders really appeared to be engrossed in what he was doing. Dr. Greenstein was very pleased by the students’ interactions with each other.
Race to 20:
Race to 20 is an unique game that requires the use of numbers and mental thinking. Dr. Greenstein explain how the the first player starts out by saying 1 or 2 and the second player adds on 1 or 2. The two players continue taking turns adding 1 or 2 until one reaches 20. The person who reaches 20 first wins the game. It really uses the power of the brain which affects the moves we make.
With a lot of competitiveness swarming through the room, the 4th graders started to pick up a couple of secrets of the game. “If you hit 17, the other person will hit 18 or 19, and you’ll always win,” says 4th grader, Amari. “Some numbers will make you lose,” says Zaim. “If you say 17 you win no matter what.” Students discovered the secret to winning the game no matter what, given that you start the game.
Folding Polygons from a Circle:
The folding is different from any other game that involves folding. In this activity, you have to fold a circle which is actually called a disc into as many shapes as you can. This activity brought great use to the imaginations of the 4th graders. Based off the reactions of the students, the 4th graders really enjoyed it. “So, we took a whole circle and made it into a small triangle,” responded an amazed Ishaq. “We made fidget spinners!” exclaimed Keith and Johnson.
From a flat disc, they made a sectors of circles, trilaterals, also known as triangles, rhombuses, trapezoids, hexagons. The students came up with different names for the shapes and figures when there was no given name. Eventually, the truncated tetrahedron became the “Fidget Tetrahedron.” This game got the students and even the teacher thinking hard and they suggest that you try it too.
At the end of the session, three students were interviewed about their experience with Dr.Greenstein and Debasmita.
What was your favorite polygon/figure?
Farah- “My favorite figure was the tetrahedron. I liked that it was able to stand because it was a circle once.”
Ava- “The pyramid, because we could hold four triangles together.”
What did you like most about Dr.Greenstein?
Farah- “I like that he told us things that could help us get to the point.”
Ava- “I like that he could explain how to do something in a more fun way.”
Zaim- “I enjoyed how Dr. Greenstein was making games up that are fun and we were learning at the same time.”
What was your favorite part of the lesson?
Farah- “My favorite part of the lesson was when we made the last shape because it was it was cool and it was a flat circle before it was 3d.”
Ava- “We could turn a flat circle into a pyramid.”
Zaim- “My favorite part of the day was when we played the game count to 20. The reason that I liked it was because it was a challenge and we had to create techniques to always win and get to 20.”
Thoughts on race to 20?
Farah- “I thought it was cool because I got numbers every time and I won twice. It was a good game to(for) me.”
Ava- “I liked the game , because we’re able to strategize a way to 20, and identify the number that could help us win.”
Would you want Dr. Greenstein to come back?
Farah- “I would want Dr. Greenstein to come back because he is fun and cool!”
Ava- “Yes, because he was really fun!”
Zaim- “I would like Dr. Greenstein to come back because he was able to make a game that was teaching me something and I am also able to have fun.”
Overall, the math session with Dr.Greenstein and and Ms. Basu was very enjoyable and informative for all participants, the teachers and reporters included.