The Lower School “Extra Session” program, Hands on Equations, is doing something radical for third and fourth graders after school: it’s bringing fractions and variables, like “X” and “Y,” to life.
Fourth grade teacher Patricia “Pedie” Hill is an ardent fan of Hands on Equations, a kit that uses manipulative materials such as pawns and dice to balance equations and subtract and add to the equation using different multiplication.
“Girls learn best by doing, touching and feeling,” said Hill, who instructs the after school program on Mondays and Tuesdays. “Working with the dice and pawns, they are able to see the equation by physically doing it…It’s not a matter of following an equation down on paper without knowing what you’re doing,” explained Hill.
So often in algebra, according to Hill, students are unaware of what they are doing and what the equation means. This program, conversely, takes the “unreal” and puts meaning to it by showing the algebraic equation tangibly through various manipulatives.
Fourth grade Hands on Equations expert, Hanna Askarpour, has enjoyed the after school program and recommends it to other students looking to get ahead in math class or desiring to become more comfortable with algebra. “Even though I really do enjoy doing things in my head, I find it a lot easier to be able to see what’s going on in front of me so that I never lose track and know what I’m doing,” said Askarpour. “It’s a program I’d recommend because it helps more than math camps in the summer and it just makes math more fun than it usually is.”