Local News

Magic of math makes students into thinkers

Posted November 15, 2009 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 15, 2009 10:12 a.m. EST

Project Education: Edutopia, a partnership between WRAL-TV and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, brings the story of an Oregon school that teaches the magic of math.

At Fullerton IV Elementary in Roseburg, Ore., students encounter math everywhere – in history class, the computer lab, art and music.

"To me, math is not a subject," said Fullerton IV Principal Mickey Garrison. "It really allows kids to learn how to reason and problem solve and learn how to communicate effectively."

In art class, students measure the shapes they are cutting out. The music teacher shows how music becomes numbers.

In Stephen Neyhart's history class, students measure out on the floor how long the Titanic is.

"We begin by researching it and gathering books and looking at pictures," Neyhart said. "Our goal initially was to write about it, but in that process, we came up with all this math."

Fullerton IV teachers are also getting extra training in mathematics and how to incorporate it into their lessons.

"Our school district did a phenomenal job of adopting a curriculum that allows children to communicate about math, and then they trained us," teacher Tammy Rasmussen said.

The curriculum has bred success among students – 85 percent test at or above grade level.

The state of Oregon is adopting the lessons into a statewide program it hopes will nurture students' thinking abilities.

"It really allows them to be great problem solvers, and my personal belief is that if you can problem-solve in life, you can do anything you want," Garrison said.