We’ve all seen the headlines – America is falling behind. Students in Washington State are less educated than ever before and everyone from major news outlets to education pundits and politicians are weighing in on where we went wrong in our education system.
According to the Washington Office of the Superintendent, more than 40 percent of elementary school students today are failing at math as evidenced by state standardized test scores. In economically challenged communities like the Rainier Valley, this number is as high as 75 percent.
One south Seattle non-profit is working to transform attitudes about math early on and build a sustainable math culture with the goal of reversing those downward trends.
This Thur., Nov. 4, Explorations in Math will host its 5th annual MathFest from 5 to 8 pm at the Rainier Community Center (4600 38th Ave. S.) in Columbia City. The celebration of math will bring together more than 1,000 elementary-age students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and community members to help kids build confidence in and enthusiasm for math through interactive games in a carnival-like setting.
“In the 21st century, every child will need math and problem-solving skills to be successful – yet too many kids are deciding too early to give up on math,” said Stephanie Cherrington, Executive Director of Explorations in Math. “MathFest vividly demonstrates our mission in action by showcasing math in ways that are fun, engaging and relevant so that all students can learn to conquer math. Much work needs to be done to make success in math as natural and expected as the ability to read.”
According to Cherrington, MathFest is the only event of its kind that provides elementary school students, parents, teachers and the community with hands-on opportunities to explore and celebrate math achievements in a festive setting. Students can engage in more than 20 interactive math-oriented games such as “Shut the Box,” where they practice addition and “Frog Jump,” in which they measure the distance traveled by tiny plastic frogs, among many others.
Launched in 2007 and first started by a grassroots group of parents dedicated to improving math education, Explorations in Math partners with 22 public and private elementary schools throughout the Puget Sound that reach roughly 7,000 students during the school year. Its mission is to create a math culture designed to help students succeed in math so they are better prepared to succeed in life.
Explorations in Math takes a holistic approach to math education both inside and outside the classroom through a variety of programs that reinforce and teach math skills and concepts – including after-school math clubs, summer math camps, family math nights, community-wide math events as well as partnerships with out-of-school providers.