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WCC teachers-in-training make math fun at Burns Park

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Washtenaw Community College students teach Burns Park fifth graders about ratios Wednesday at the Math Carnival.

By Tara Cavanaugh

At the Burns Park annual Math Carnival, everyone’s a winner.

Washtenaw Community College education students practice giving math lessons. Burns Park students learn new concepts and practice old ones. And everyone gets candy.

Forty WCC students created math-centric carnival games for a first and fifth grade class at Burns Park Wednesday morning.

The games were made by Nichole Klemmer’s Elementary Math I and II students and based the elementary teachers’ math curriculum.

“Some of the concepts here, for example prime and composite numbers and different angles, we’ve already done,” said fifth grade teacher Sandra Kreger, pointing around the room at various tables. “Ratios over there, we haven’t done yet. So we can refer back to it when we do learn it. It’s really terrific.”

WCC students Berri Wolff and Paige Maynard’s game reinforced concepts of geometry. The fifth graders drew different kinds of lines, angles and triangles.

The college students practiced their games with one another, “but you could tell instantly when they tried to do it with the kids it’s a completely different experience,” Klemmer said.

That hands-on experience is exactly the point, she added. “With this carnival, they’re able to actually do what they would have to do if they were a teacher.”

WCC students James Nevendorf, Lindsay Green and Christine Williams taught a lesson in ratios with a game of balloons and Lifesavers candy. The fifth graders figured out how many Lifesavers to fill in a bag attached to the balloons in order to make them float, not sink or rise to the ceiling.

Students Siara Cain, Ashley Benedict and Dwight Adkins timed the elementary students in solving a problem with fractions and then throwing a ball at the correct answer on plastic 2-liters.

An activity designed by Berri Wolff and Paige Maynard was artistic. Their game involved students drawing different kinds of lines –– parallel, perpendicular, or at certain angles –– and identifying all the kinds of triangles they made and coloring them in.

“All the stuff you take for granted, you have to be able to figure out and explain and know that ahead of time,” Wolff said. “Like how to do things in pieces so that you have steps that you can explain.”

The Math Carnival has taken place for six years, and it’s a favorite of the both the elementary and the college students.

Burns Park fifth grade teacher Sandra Kreger with WCC education professor Nichole Klemmer.

“Every class that I’ve ever had, they’ve always commented that this is the best day of the semester,” said Klemmer. They’re able to actually do what they would have to do if they were a teacher, and they’re actually learning how to create these activities.”

“They think it’s the best day of their life,” said Kreger. “They get a chance to reinforce some concepts and they have a great time. They don’t even remember that they’re doing math.”

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