Math camp adds up to fun

June 23, 2011

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Local students are finding out that math can be used in everyday life.

“Math is in just about everything,” said Joanna Keyser, a Carlisle School math teacher who is assisting with the fourth annual “Math in Everyday Life” summer camp sponsored by the New College Institute (NCI) with help from Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) and the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness.

Nineteen rising seventh- and eighth-graders from the county and city middle schools and Carlisle School are participating in the camp this week, according to Keyser.

Each day, the students are taught new ways that math can be incorporated into their lives. “It’s a fun and interesting way to apply math to everyday life,” said Eliza Walmsley, an NCI assistant.

The camp brings about a “maturity (in the students) and an openness to new ideas,” Walmsley said. “It’s creative and more hands-on than in a classroom setting.”

On Monday, the students learned the value of math in exercise by using pedometers. They took a short walk and learned how to calculate and track their steps, according to Keyser.

The health coalition provided pedometers as well as a guest speaker, said Steve Keyser, outreach educator at NCI.

Joanna Keyser said that on Tuesday and Wednesday, the students learned to make kaleidoscopes. Steven Keyser said the kaleidoscope lesson is provided by Patrick Henry Community College, which also provides a culinary chef during the camp.

The kaleidoscope project was the highlight for Reanna Craig, a rising seventh-grader at Laurel Park Middle School.

To make the kaleidoscopes, the students put together a series of triangles and other geometric shapes, Joanna Keyser said.

“You had to cut at the right angle (for the kaleidoscope to fit together); it had to be smaller at the top than the bottom,” Reanna said.

Savanna Holland, also a rising seventh-grader at Laurel Park, said the kaleidoscope project taught her to measure properly.

Savanna’s favorite part of the camp was working in the kitchen and making fish kabobs on Tuesday. She said she learned a lot about ounces during that project.

On Wednesday, the students prepared steak and cheese hoagies and chicken quesadillas, said Joanna Keyser.

The kitchen allows the students to learn about fractions, how to measure and how to follow a basic recipe, she said.

Today, the students will have a chance to apply some of the math concepts they learned throughout the week in making their own art projects, she said.

The math camp will wrap up Friday with a field trip to the Philpott Dam, where the students will learn how hydroelectric power is produced, the scientific principles behind electricity and how math is used in the process, Joanna Keyser said.

She said that during the week, students also learned how to save money while shopping and the costs of operating a business in order to connect math even more to everyday life.

“They gained confidence in math and how fun it can be,” Keyser said.

“I love math,” Savanna said. The math camp shows her “the things I can do with it.”

The camp also shows “what PHCC and NCI can do when they work together,” said Steve Keyser, adding that the camp is a good example of teamwork between the two colleges.

The camp is held at the New College and PHCC’s School of Craft and Design/Southern Virginia Artisan Center.


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