Young mathematicians flex numerous muscles at Purdue Math Field Day


Author(s): Tim Brouk

Math Field Day

Students place points and lines of yarn on the Slope Game during the 2015 Purdue Math Field Day.

Donning gold or black T-shirts, 60 area eighth graders flexed their mathematical muscles at the 2015 Purdue Math Field Day, held Nov. 3 at the Purdue Armory.

The boys and girls from Wainwright Middle School and Benton Central Junior High School were divided up and became teammates. The annual event put on by Purdue Science K-12 Outreach and the Mathematics Education Club strives to get students further interested in math and statistics, but Math Field Day teaches teamwork, too. Instead of the two schools competing against each other, the students were shuffled and teamed up with kids they’ve never met.

The teams were further divided into subgroups as four or so students at a time were stationed at tables set up in the Armory. Purdue Mathematics and Statistics students led them through hands-on complex problems like Linear Leap: The students had to measure their height and long jumps to see what kind of relationship there was between the two variables.

Slope Game saw students compute the slopes of lines between two points. The points were marked on poster boards that contained Purdue campus landmarks. The students used yarn to plot their lines when asked to get from the Engineering Mall to the Bell Tower.

Colorful little paper creatures called Woozles were used for a few problems. Make a Chain saw students use the Woozles to make a circular relationship where each adjacent Woozle differs in only one attribute. In or Out saw the students guessing which attribute or attributes determine if a Woozle is in or out of a group.

The students had only 20 minutes to complete the problems at each of the eight stations. After each round, they moved to the next game to earn points for their team but to also strengthen their problem-solving and team-building skills.

Math Field Day

Students measure a long jump at the Linear Leap problem during the 2015 Math Field Day.

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