Don’t fear math

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By Kirsten Laskey

Math should not be something to fear. In fact, if approached from the right perspective, the subject can be fun.

The Los Alamos Branch of American Association of University Women (AAUW), in conjunction with Mesa Public Library Family Night, is showing off this sometimes overlooked side of math during the Let’s Read Math Program at 7 p.m. Monday at Mesa Public Library. The program will present “Grand Father Tang’s Story.”

“Grandfather Tang’s Story” by Ann Tompert and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker is a tale told with tangrams. The math concept is spatial relations. After the story is read, the children will work with tangrams to create the creatures featured in the story.

The whole objective around this, explained Natalie Markin, AAUW facilitator and presiding officer, is to get kids interested in math.

“The idea is that if you get to kids early enough, math is no longer something they fear,” Markin said. “Our goal is to make math less intimidating and something fun to do.”

The Los Alamos branch of AAUW has presented Let’s Read Math for several years now. At first, they presented it to teachers at the school district but small attendances made the organization decide to go directly to the children, Markin said.

So the program has been held at the Mesa Public Library and White Rock Branch Library and the participants seem to enjoy it, she said.

Dr. Claire Passantino of the Makefield, Penn. AAUW branch initiated the Let’s Read Math program in 1994. Passantino has many years of teaching experience in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The object of the program is to help alleviate the anxiety that many children, especially girls, have about mathematics.

The object is to make math fun. Children who have a positive experience with math outside of school appear to be more successful with math in school.

Children read a book that has some type of math intertwined in the story and then do fun activities relating to that subject.

This program is working to make a long-term impact. Markin said the hope is that, as participants get older and come across different math concepts, they’ll think, “I remember, that – that was fun.”