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Monday, December 14, 2015

Developing Hands-on Mathematics Culture in schools

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"The teaching and learning of this seemingly difficult subject can be made easy and interactive." writes Dr Seemin Rubab, Associate Professor, Physics, NIT, Srinagar.

Photo: Greater Kashmir

A mathematics laboratory or activity centre is a place where we find a collection of games, puzzles, teaching aids and other materials for carrying out activities. The concept of Mathematics Activity Centre has been introduced with the objective of making teaching and learning of the subject interactive, participatory, fun filling and joyful from primary stage of schooling up to higher secondary. The other purpose could be strengthening the learning of mathematical concepts through concrete materials and hands-on-experiences. 
Maths Activity Centres could also be helpful in relating classroom learning to real life situations and discourage rote and mechanical learning. A mathematics laboratory provides an opportunity for the students to discover through doing. In many of the activities, students learn to deal with problems while doing concrete activity, which lays down a base for more abstract thinking.  It gives more scope for individual participation. It encourages students to become autonomous learners and allows a student to learn at his or her own space. It widens the experiential base, and prepares the ground for later learning of new areas in mathematics and of making appropriate connections.  In various puzzles and games, the students learn the use of rules and constraints and have an opportunity to change these rules and constraints. In this process they become aware of the role that rules and constraints play in mathematical problems. Because of the larger time available individually to the student and opportunity to repeat an activity several times, students can revise and rethink the problem and solution. This helps to develop meta-cognitive abilities. It builds up interest and confidence in the students in learning and doing mathematics. Importantly, it allows variety in school mathematics learning.
Not much hardware is required for developing maths activity centre. Some charts, Pictures, Geoboards, Connectable Plastic cubes, Net diagrams for solid shapes, special types of paper such as isometric dot paper, grid paper, origami paper, squared paper, card board, full protractor, plastic ruler, thread, rubber bands and match sticks or tooth picks are sufficient to start hands on math endeavour. 

Tangrams, Tessellation and Origami are very good activities to initiate child towards geometry and creative learning in maths. The seven pieces that make up a tangram can be cut from a single square. There are thus two small triangles, one medium size triangle, two large triangles a square and a lozenge shaped piece. The medium sized triangles and the square and the rhomboid are all twice the area of one of the small triangles. Each of the large triangles is four times the area of one of the small triangles. All the angles in these pieces are either 900, or 450 or 1350.The puzzle lies in using all seven pieces of the Tangram to make alphabets, birds, houses, boats, people and geometric shapes. Tangrams have fascinated mathematicians and lay people for ages.

Source: Greater Kashmir