M is for Marvelous Math

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1, 2 Buckle my shoe
3, 4 Shut the door
5, 6 Pick up sticks
7, 8 Lay them straight
9,10 Begin again

Everyone will grow up in a world that requires mathematical literacy and critical thinking skills—even those who do not grow up to become physicists, engineers, or mathematicians. We would like to encourage every parent to raise a scientist – a critical thinker empowered by mathematical competence.

Scientists observe, question, hypothesize, experiment, record, and analyze data. All children can be scientists by following their own natural curiosity. And all parents can help their children in this process. Here are some suggested activities you can do at home with your child to help develop their mathematical literacy and to unlock a passion for numbers!

Count von Count on Sesame Street! Credit: World Bank Photo Collection

Start by Counting!

Remember Count von Count, the fictional mysterious vampire that appeared on Sesame Street? The Count’s main role was to teach counting skills to children. He would literally count anything and everything! Count von Count was onto something; counting numbers is an important skill in math and gives kids a solid foundation for number sense and numeration. So, like the Count, start by counting out loud, counting backwards, counting by twos. Count clouds in the sky, red cars passing by, birds coming to your feeder…in other words, find what your child is interested in and start counting it!

Use Math Language in Your Child’s Everyday Routine

Use everyday math language when talking to your child. This is a simple activity that can be incorporated into your daily routine. It gives your child a chance to express their growing understanding of math concepts.

Use words like big, bigger, biggest and sort everyday items by size. Discuss mathematical concepts like how much, how little, how low, how high. Try words like empty, half-full, heavy, heavier, thin, and thick. In other words, ask your child to compare items found in their regular routine so that these words begin to have meaning and relevance.

Look for Patterns

Children often enjoy finding patterns. Patterns can be found in pictures, words, music, even clouds. Patterns help kids make predictions because children are prompted to answer the question, “What comes next?”

Many patterns can be found in nature, so take their natural curiosity outdoors and look for items like shells, snowflakes, pinecones, even insects. Find patterns in a butterfly wing, patterns in songs, patterns in the sky. In other words, ask your child what they find interesting and look for items that repeat in a logical way.

Practise Positive Self-Talk

Believing in ourselves is critical for success. When kids think they are not good at math, they tend to shy away from math. When a kid repeatedly says and thinks, “I’m not good at math”, over time they will believe that they are indeed not good at math. Bolster their confidence by changing their internal dialogue. With practise, over time, “I’m not good at math”, can be reshaped to, “I don’t understand this math concept yet, but I am confident we can find the answer together!”

Take it Slow and Enjoy Exploring Math Together

When exploring the world of mathematics, be your child’s positive role model. Take it slow and discover math in a supportive and relaxed atmosphere, as a team. Most of all, have fun, enjoy the journey, and celebrate the wins!

Book a STEM workshop and Measure, Sort, and Build!

Our STEM workshops are not only fun, but they help build critical thinking skills. Workshops are available for students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. Workshops are hands-on and provide ample opportunities for students to measure, sort, look for patterns, make predictions, and problem-solve.

We offer virtual classroom workshops across Canada, and are offering some topics on-site and in-person in select locations in Ontario (Peel, Durham, York, and Toronto).

Check out our website for available workshops in your area.

Download an Educational Math Resource from our Website

Our team at Scientists in School continuously supports learning at home by adding new and exciting educational resources on our website. All activities are free to download.

Our latest resource focuses on math and encourages number explorations in the kitchen and the backyard. Try these fun math activities, Cookie Calculations, Marshmallow Launcher, and Butterfly Symmetry. Download Math + Science = Fun!

Register for an Activity During Science Literacy Week: September 19th-25th all across Canada

Science Literacy Week is an annual event funded by Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Each year, Science Literacy Week chooses a theme and this year’s theme is mathematics!

“Science Literacy Week showcases the many ways kids and families can explore and enjoy the diversity of Canadian science. Libraries, museums, science centres, schools and not-for-profits come together to highlight the books, movies, podcasts and events that share exciting stories of the science, discoveries and ingenuity shaping our lives. It’s about each and everyone’s unique relationship with science and how they live it.”

Scientists in School, along with hundreds of other collaborative partners, are offering hundreds of activities across the country. Click to find an event that suits you, Science Literacy Events.

Get Inspired and Watch an Interview with Mathematician and Former NFL Player, John C. Urschel

Spotlight with Scientists in School* has scored a touchdown this month, as we kick-off Season 5 with mathematician and former football player, John C. Urschel.

John was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and as a child enjoyed math and logic puzzles. John recalls finding math in everyday life, whether at home or the grocery store. By the time he was 13, Urschel was auditing college-level calculus courses. He received his PhD in mathematics at MIT and is currently a Harvard Junior Fellow. John also played college football at Penn State and pursued an NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens.

John is also the author of “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football”.

“Many people see me as a walking contradiction.
They think that the pursuit of excellence in football makes the pursuit of excellence in mathematics impossible.”

Join us for our YouTube Premiere, Thursday September 22nd at 12:45 pm EST, as we explore John’s incredible journey – a journey in both math and football! It is a conversation you don’t want to miss!

*Spotlight with Scientists in School is an original STEM career interview series that shines a spotlight on diverse STEM professionals and role models that are relatable, successful and inspiring. From Arctic polar ambassadors in Svaldbard, Norway to beluga whale snot collectors in Churchill, Manitoba, this series is a valuable experiential learning opportunity. Check out full playlist on our Spotlight YouTube Channel.

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