Ursuline News

Math Students Get Inspired
Math Students Get Inspired

Math + visualization = success

Students learned to think critically and creatively through mathematical conversations during Ursuline's Week of Inspirational Math.

"The goal is to foster confidence and creativity in our students and help them grow as mathematicians," math teacher Katie Hayes said.

Dr. Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University, originally created the "Week of Inspirational Math" curriculum. This is the second year Ursuline has adapted the curriculum for all math students.

"The activity that applied to a real-life concept, spreading of the flu, was really interesting to me," junior Macon Rutledge said. "It helped me realize that math isn't just for people who want to pursue specific careers that revolve around math. Math can be, and is, applied to all subjects and most modern jobs in some way."

This year's focus was spatial reasoning.

"As educators, we are often told that girls lack strong spatial reasoning skills," Math Department Chair Tammy Yung said. "We wanted to give our students the opportunity to work on these skills and look at two and three dimensional figures with an eye toward patterns and predictability."

Highlights included:

  • Students were organized into groups of different math levels. Upperclassmen showcased leadership skills, and underclassmen were introduced to mathematical concepts they will see in future courses.
  • Students learned about exponential growth and rate of change using a flu epidemic. They determined intervals of increasing rate of change.
  • Other activities addressed spatial reasoning: discovering multiple paths on a triangular puzzle to trace a design, determining the shortest distance between two points on a solid, three-dimensional shape, developing a formula for the nth fold of disappearing paper, and folding paper. Many students folded the paper differently but ended up with the same solution.