MakingMath Expo: Learning Math and How to Learn Math

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Students, families, and teachers circulate to determine which project to start with. Photo credit Aaron Vanderwerff.

On Saturday, March 28, Alameda County Office of Education and Core Learning partnered with Lighthouse Community Charter School to host a MakingMath Expo–an event designed to model how math can be taught using creative and engaging problems and activities. In spite of the gorgeous sunshine beckoning students, families, and teachers into the great outdoors, over a hundred participants spent several hours of their Saturday exploring an assortment of non-traditional problems–a testament to the great need and desire for just this kind of challenge in our schools.

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Budding animators make stop-motion math animations to illustrate step-by-step process in solving math problems using iPads and a multi-layer glass stage.

Young people from the ages of 4 through 70 (at least!) experienced making in the wide variety of projects such as:

This is not an exhaustive list! How else could you see these activities being integrated into the math learning you are involved in?

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Two young learners use Legos to understand fractions and number [de]composition.

Weaving in Common Core Math Content Standards as well as the Standards for Mathematical Practice, the MakingMath projects provided opportunities for participants to learn about concepts including, but not limited to: ratio and scaling; computational thinking; fractions and proportional reasoning while developing their abilities to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them; use appropriate tools strategically; and attend to precision.


Creating a mold to hold his double-size peanut butter cup

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A photo mashup using fraction knowledge and a NYSci App 



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Alameda County Library’s Squishy Circuits table gets students thinking about data, measurement, and reasoning (abstract and quantitative).



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Never too young to #makemath. Photo Credit Mirella Rangel

As parents and teachers circulated, many of the conversations centered around how this problem- and project-based approach to learning could be replicated in their own learning spaces. In conceiving of the skills that students need to be successful in a 21st century world, creativity and problem-solving are two that come up over and over again in Core Learning’s work with educators. The projects and philosophy behind the MakingMath expo not only helped participants to solidify their content and skills, but also showed one way that learning (and teaching) math can be facilitated.

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Students teach themselves and each other how to use Turtle Art to express their creativity and geometric understanding.

This promises to be the first of what we hope to be a legacy of MakingMath events; follow us on Twitter and check our blog periodically to find out about these and other Core Learning events. Until then…have fun #MakingMath!

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