2011-05-12 / Family

Scholar seeks solution to ultimate problem: Making math fun

Summer program offered by Discovery Center
By Stephanie Bertholdo

MATHEMAGICIAN—Glen Whitney created Math Midway, a traveling carnival-style exhibition that aims to reveal the magic of math. The exhibition will make a stop in T.O. this summer. MATHEMAGICIAN—Glen Whitney created Math Midway, a traveling carnival-style exhibition that aims to reveal the magic of math. The exhibition will make a stop in T.O. this summer. Opening children’s minds to the wonders of mathematics can be difficult when their only exposure to math has been rote learning and worksheets to complete.

The Discovery Center for Science and Technology wants to kick-start young minds into mathematical gear with the Math Midway traveling exhibition.

The hands-on, educational exhibit will be open this summer from June 18 to Aug. 12 at 43 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., next to Big 5 Sporting Goods in Thousand Oaks.

Math Midway was created by Glen Whitney, a former hedge fund quantitative analyst, as a pilot program for his new Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) in New York City. MoMath is scheduled to open sometime in 2012. Whitney is the museum’s executive director.

Last month, Whitney gave the final talk in this year’s Discovery Center’s Science Speaker Series, a presentation on how math should and can be an exciting and engaging pursuit rather than merely a memory game for children.

Carrie Glicksteen, one of the founders of the Discovery Center and director of the center’s teen program, said Math Midway has been traveling the U.S. for two years.

The 4,500-square-foot exhibition will introduce kids and their parents to a variety of mathematical principles through fun and games, including the opportunity to ride a square-wheeled tricycle and design a roller coaster.

Glicksteen said the exhibition will have the feel of a carnival. Families will be able to spin the universal wheel of chance and explore “mind-bending mirrors” and “terrific tessellations.”

“Its hands-on nature and emphasis on problem-solving in the context of fun is an exact match for our educational mission,” Glicksteen said.

Beyond fun and games, the ultimate goal of the Discovery Center and MoMath is to help children understand mathematical concepts. According to Glicksteen, studies have found that American students lag far behind other countries in their math mastery.

Only 11 percent of fourthgrade American students reached the advanced benchmark in math compared to 40 percent of fourth-graders in Singapore and Hong Kong, according to a Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Volunteer opportunities are available at the Math Midway this summer, Glicksteen said. Docents and guides, ages 15 and older, are needed for the exhibit.

Regular shifts of at least three hours will be scheduled, and orientation and training will be provided.

In addition to Math Midway providing a fun and educational outing for families, Glicksteen said the program will offer programs for Scouts, camps and schools, as well as birthday parties.

The Discovery Center for Science and Technology is an educational nonprofit whose mission is to generate excitement about learning science in an environment that promotes curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. The center has operated as a “Museum Without Walls,” offering programs at schools and community venues.

Reservations and information regarding the Math Midway can be made by contacting the Discovery Center office, (818) 879- 2021. Visit http://mathmidway.org for more on the exhibit.

Return to top