Session Documents

Math and Making Open Conference Notes


7.  Where are Ways We Can Make Math Explicit? 

Facilitator:  Alana Parkes



Alana: (MOS): Math on signs and visitors walk away—when and how do we make the math explicit to the visitors


Really want people to know when they are doing math?  Self efficacy—so feel good about doing it. 


Engage in doing math- because I enjoy that we are doing math.


Lots of different ways to make math explicit


A : Activity developer- get out of people’s way- want to take away everything that makes people stop-calling content out is problematic


B: Favorite thing was a ball track- (had kinetic  to potential energy).  Junior year heard about kinetic energy—science museum exhibit helped me make the connection.  Museums have a point of reference


C: How are these things constrained by the museum space; not supposed to stay with it, say when unfacilitated, is labeling something math deadly.  There is nothing you can do in an unfacilitated space.  If we make the math explicit, how do we do that.   Little board on the side, you can use math to do what you want to better


D:  How to make the math explicit? 


Alana: Math Moves – people just did it.  –formulas and labels in month the exhibits, photo montages that allow you to see the math in the world. 


E: Donut and the hamburger—donut is delicious, oh it is vegan, that is cool.

This is math—donut, you are not going to stop doing it,   See that it is math, they will go


Big issue about naming the museum – put science in there—if put mathematics in the name of the museum- creating a museum to try to address those. Don’t want to become unwitting reinforces of the stereotype MoMath- don’t know why you called this mathematics,  I did not see any math in your museum.


Where else do we call out the beauty and joy of mathematics.


Anytime we avoid the word math and its variants we will perpetuate


Where are ways we can make math explicit?


Donut is awesome—awesome – use words – totally related relationship you foind, what are the words that don’t provoke an immune response.


C: Distaste for math- experiences people experience in mathematics classrooms- don’t want someone else setting the criteria for what is good.  Knowing that is good is the criteria.  Teaching kids to knit at public libraries – pick moment when invested enough, tell them about the permission slip.  If you give the permission slip before giving the yarn will never get there.

What is causing the ick- math, will help you better judge when to label things.  Times to label math is when it doesn’t feel like you’re taking the project over.


Alana: Told them afterwards, they wanted them to connect the experiences they did to connect it back to vocabulary in schools.


F:  Exhibit- let people play with laser cutting – conic sections – I never knew that had anything to do with cutting a cone.


G:  Insists that you don’t like math—wants to be an engineer – your pretty good at math out of school—using math all the time but her son didn’t know he was doing it.  We don’t have to have specific exhibits about math.  We can call out the math in the world.


Here’s the math is a standard label on everything.


You want to know where all the math is

Put math glasses on where you get to see the math in things around you.

E:  Seeing math outside in the world.  One thing we don’t like about school math is binary(right or wrong)  and learning .  When we are trying to make more explicit in things that were designed to be science activities.  Scribblers- I didn’t want to think about mathematics in that., that should be okay.  Be explicit about the things that are consequential. 


Paper engineering has a lot of math in it.  Think about symmetry, be sure these are parallel and perpendicular.  Explain that how make sure people know –what do you think the math is (perpendicular and symmetry came up). 


Signs off to the side are usually for parents- how will this change the way parents interact with people so that they don’t derail what the kids are doing.


F: Dowels and rubber bands- start a construction-  parents get really invested and push the kids away.


B: If you tainted it with math, how do you repair that?


Geometry Playground: Playground made people feel ok about the math and geometry made it appeal to older kids.


16 women and 8 men- frequency of speakers were mostly men.  I was facilitating and trying to figure out what was going on.  Had a conversation with women after—I told story from what happened yesterday about an activity about concentric circles- everyone knows a ton of math and I don’t know anything.  Not unpacking what that meant.  It is interesting with a math term, you didn’t ask, but other obscure term.


Prototyping disposition:  – perceived in being in this expert position—see I am the all knowing one—I will tell the person who made this what you think—get stupid- cool thing to know a word,

F: Strategies- bring up  a story of a person- mathematician – university of Kansas explaining the exhibit- math professor who is personable.

Reveal: We have a set of videos that deal facilitators  - give them math language or not- videos will be a fertile ground for learning about the intuition of the facilitator on how to respond.  Knew a lot about math content, make intergenerational family learning. 


H: Difference between making math explicit to deepen their understanding or to deepen their interest in math. 


I: Algebra project –explicit about math and their own empowerment.  What does the math mean to participants.  Identity and relationship to math.

C - what do you do when you say math and someone panics.  Do you want to balance something or make art.  Do you want to have some math words to go with that- make sure you haven’t taken


I do want to talk to you about- I have another way to show you that you can do math.

E - often in schools they talk about this as such and such- they will call this such and such..  Math that you are doing is from school. 


A: One time I read this, I wonder if this relates…don’t give away the power to school math.


People whose jobs involve this kind of stuff tell us

C - Teaching grammar- you won’t need to know all of this, but sometimes it helps you do this faster- make agenda transparent and give them opportunity to pick up the agenda or not.