Crowdfunding at 80%, summer kids math, Reddit AMA: Newsletter June 24

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Avoid Hard Work: crowdfunding is almost at 80%

Avoid Hard Work is our newest book. It gives a playful view on ten powerful problem-solving techniques, originally published by the Mathematical Association of America for advanced high school students – and now, made accessible for children ages 3 (yes! three!) and up.  Go to the book page to try activities from the sample pages, watch James Tanton’s pirate island story, and read about our worry-dreams.

Thank you so much to everybody who contributed! We will always remember you by name – and it will be in the book.

Summer Online Camps for Children: June 27 and August 8

Download and try sample activities for your children, Inspired by Calculus for ages 5-9 and Camp Logic for ages 9-14. If you like what you see, sign up for a week of daily mathematical joy! Starting June 27 and August 8.

Camp Logic Sample Pages

Reddit adventure: AMA – Ask Me Anything

AMA MariaDroujkova

 

Dr. Maria Droujkova did a question and answer live event called Ask Me Anything on Reddit. There are 850+ comments there – what a friendly and interested discussion it had been! Here are a couple of more upvoted exchanges.

Q: Why do so many children (and adults) hate advanced math? Is it how it’s taught, or what is taught?

A: It’s a deep question, and I’d like to warn that the answer is somewhat disturbing in its implications. Yes, some of it is WHAT is taught – the number crunching without patterns, the primitive yet tedious topics instead of beautiful adventures of the mind, medieval content not linked to current trends. The “what” part is relatively easy to address: there are wonderful materials out there! Innovative books, cool computer simulations, hands-on construction sets, etc.

And a part of the problem HOW math is taught: we do need to mind what we know about human learning, such as spaced repetition for memory, the power of multiple examples that come from your peer group, the motivation of making mathematics your own.

Yet the most difficult part that tends to stay off-screen is WHY math is taught. Advanced math is taught as a gatekeeper, as a means not to starve. It trickles all the way down – I hear parents of children as young as five or six say that if they don’t push math now, the child will fail forever. To quote a presentation: “Why do we need to know multiplication? One reason is that multiplication is on many tests kids take. The story goes like this: if kids don’t know multiplication facts, they will fail tests, which means they won’t get into college, which means no career, which means epic fail of the whole life. For want of a nail, the kingdom is lost.”

So people hate math because they learn it out of fear. How can we help kids learn math for meaningful, joyful, loving reasons? That’s what it’s all about…

Q: Ok, I get how a 5 year old could probably understand limits but please explain to me how the average 5 year old can understand differentiation and integration?

A: Imagine an interesting shape, like the Millennium Falcon. How much space does it occupy? Or maybe, how much plastic would you need to 3D print it? Now, imagine building that spaceship out of LEGO blocks. You can then count the blocks to estimate the volume. This, in a nutshell, is integration: building a shape out of easy, simple little shapes.


See you online!

Dr. Maria Droujkova and the Natural Math crew

CC BY-NC-SA

Questions? Email reach.out@naturalmath.com

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Posted in Make & Grow, Newsletter

Funville Adventures beta testing; Avoid Hard Work campaign at 25%! Newsletter June 14

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Get involved: Funville Adventures beta testing

Functions of Funville

The goals of this two-day workshop are 1) to give parents and teachers new tools for introducing children to mathematical concepts in the form of fantasy stories and 2) to help Sasha Fradkin and Allison Bishop, the authors of the upcoming book Funville Adventures, beta test a chapter of the book.

  • What: A two-day online workshop on introducing mathematical concepts through stories, for children ages 5 to 10. Topics include functions, rotations, geometry, and problem-solving.
  • Why: Learn how to teach your children mathematical concepts through a fantasy adventure story.
  • Who: Parents, teachers, and math circle leaders with their children, with Dr. Sasha Fradkin and Dr. Allison Bishop as organizers.
  • When: Monday, June 20th, 7-8 PM and Thursday, June 23, 7-8 PM Eastern Time (New York)
  • Where: Online video-talk software Zoom (similar to Skype)
  • Price: Free.
  • Supplies: A few cylindrical objects such as cans, a ruler, twine, scissors.
  • What if we can’t come to the live event? You can sign up to read Funville chapters, do the activities on your own, and discuss them with us by email.

Go to the workshop page for more information about the project.


Avoid Hard Work: crowdfunding is at 25%

Avoid Hard Work is our newest book. It gives a playful view on ten powerful problem-solving techniques. The techniques were originally published by the Mathematical Association of America for advanced high school students – and we made them accessible for children ages 3 (yes! three!) and up. The book is for parents, teachers, math circle leaders, and others who work with children. Go to the book page to try activities from the sample pages, watch James Tanton’s pirate island story, and read about our worry-dreams.

Want to get involved in this awesome project? Join the crowdfunding campaign, check out the rewards, and post info about it to other parent and educator groups!

Crowdfund Avoid Hard Work

See you online!

Dr. Maria Droujkova and the Natural Math crew

CC BY-NC-SA

Questions? Email reach.out@naturalmath.com

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Posted in Make & Grow, Newsletter

Avoid Hard Work! Crowdfunding – Newsletter June 8, 2016

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Check out Avoid Hard Work! – problem-solving for the young and the young at heart

CrowdfundAvoidHardWork2

Avoid Hard Work by Maria Droujkova, James Tanton, and Yelena McManaman gives a playful view on ten powerful problem-solving techniques. It is for parents, teachers, math circle leaders, and others who work with children ages three to ten. The book is planned to come out in the Fall of 2016. Help us make this a reality!

Avoid Hard Work Video

Go to the crowdfunding page and listen to James Tanton’s video story about a strange island and a clever pirate who uses imagination to solve problems. On the page, you can also download sample pages from the current book draft, read questions and answers, and try the activities with your children!

Avoid Hard Work Sample

Below is one of my favorite quotes from the book.

What is this book really all about? Our early readers shared their worry-dreams. Here is the dream page from the book.

For our children, we dream that mathematics…

… makes sense
… is more than just arithmetic
… is joyous
… makes them strong
… is meaningful
… is creative
… is full of fascinating questions
… opens up many paths to solutions
… is friendly
… solves big problems and makes the world better
… is a powerful tool they can master
… is beautiful
… lets them learn in their own ways
… is connected to their lives
… asks “why” and not just “how”
… opens the world


Bundle sale ends Monday the 13th

Our Five for Fifty sale ends this Monday, and the book bundle reverts to its regular price. If you were planning to order, now is a good time.

See you online!

Dr. Maria Droujkova and the Natural Math crew

CC BY-NC-SA

Questions? Email reach.out@naturalmath.com or ask in comments to this page.

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Posted in Newsletter

Lux Blox Review

One of the best things about blogging at NaturalMath.com is that I get to review books and games! That’s one benefit of having seven kids at home still, too! I asked Lux Blox if I could review their blocks and they sent me a free box!  (Thank you, Michael!)

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 Not familiar with Lux Blox yet? This is from their site:

Lux was created by artist/inventor Michael Acerra because he and his wife Heather wanted to give the world a block that could build everything as nature does.  Lux revolutionizes the possibilities of construction block creations by combining innovative technology with nature’s design principles.

With Lux, builders are now free to make structures that curve, bend, and move.  The unique, patent-pending snap and lock hinge system allows you to create structures that flex, twist, and turn, while retaining strength and stability.  Now builders and innovators of all ages can use Lux to model machines, biological organisms, architecture — or whatever structures they can imagine!

As soon as the box arrived my kids started asking what it was. I hadn’t told them they were coming! I used their excitement as leverage to get the living room cleaned up, because I knew what would happen once we opened the box.

And I was right!

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They were consumed by building Lux Blox creations for several hours. We had to make them stop for dinner. The blox were everywhere. It didn’t take any time for them to start being really creative with their building. They LOVE that the blocks can lock and be firm, but that they can roll and curve too. We’ve had them for four days and they are still out and still being used. The only challenge we’ve had, is that I need to order another few boxes so everyone has enough blocks to build! They aren’t liking the need to share!

We’ve built guns (boys!), balls, baskets, cars, Star Wars Y-wings, and more. The 4yo and the 12yo sit side by side and build. They are creative and challenging. We haven’t even touched on all the neat videos on the Lux Blox site yet!

One of the neatest things about them is their curving ability. I don’t really know how to explain it, but they work almost like a human joint. In the photos below you can see my daughter roll up a “carpet” (as they call it) of them and then let it unroll. That part was really amazing to them (and me!)

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Rolling it up is so cool!

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Then it unrolls flat!

When they started building hollow spheres (balls), they had small gaps between some blocks. So I challenged my older boys to build a ball that didn’t have any gaps in it. They are still working on figuring out how to do that. In fact, they get home from school and drop their folders and jackets on the floor and start working with their Lux Blox. I love their enthusiasm (but maybe not the dropping stuff on the floor part)!

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I’ll sum up my review with a quote from my 9yo lego-lover. (He’s the one in the photo just above.) “I declare that Lux Blox will be as awesome and famous as Legos and that they will keep growing and growing and everyone will know about them. These are the awesomest blocks ever! Can we each have our own box?”

 

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Posted in A Math Circle Journey

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