The Great and Challenging Math Carnival of JPDS-NC
April 16, 2015 by
This spring, the fifth grade students in my math class worked to create a math carnival to offer fun challenges in math to their fellow fifth graders. After three months spent planning the project and designing games, the math carnival opened on March 30.
It all began when the students suggested preparing a math carnival as an authentic and exciting way to apply all that they have been learning in math this year — to a fun and meaningful purpose. From the start, they defined the objectives of the project: reinforcing and extending their own learning of a wide range of math subjects; imagining and developing games; and helping others secure their own understanding of math concepts.
The Math Carnival featured numerous games, including “Pin the Parentheses on the Equation,” which reviewed order of operations concepts; “Money,” which highlighted the ways operations with negative and positive integers could drastically change your account balance; and “Horse Races,” which modeled itself after the classic arcade game with the novel twist of having players answer geometry questions to advance their horses to the finish line.
The students enjoyed seeing their peers engaged in the games and receiving positive feedback and thanks for creating such a fun learning experience for everyone. Reflecting on the experience afterward, the students noted that they absorbed so much information from this learning experience because it imbued their learning with personal relevance in the context of creating the games. As they worked on the math carnival, the students approached their learning with eagerness, purpose, and joy, and, perhaps because of that, their learning became ever more enduring.