Math Night: learning opportunity or just plain fun?

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Tue., Apr. 5, 2011
Andrew (in blue), Nick and Davin enjoy a game during Jack Jackter Intermediate School's Math Night on March 31. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Andrew (in blue), Nick and Davin enjoy a game during Jack Jackter Intermediate School's Math Night on March 31. Photos by Melanie Savage.

You know those television commercials where the mom doesn’t want the kids to know that the cereal they’re eating is good for them? Math Night is kind of like that; it’s an educational experience, but the kids may not realize it, because they’re having so much fun.

Math Night has been a tradition at Jack Jackter Intermediate School for many years. “We’ve been doing it at least as long as we’ve been in this building,” said Principal Deborah Sandberg. The event draws a large number of school staff, who volunteer to man games and fulfill other duties. “I want to say 85 percent of our staff is here,” said Sandberg on March 31, during Math Night 2011.

This year’s event was organized by math specialist Tracy Moore and math teacher Janet Kelly. There were more than 20 games planned for the students, in grades three through five. But games are geared toward all different age levels, as students are encouraged to bring family members along. “We like to call it ‘Family Night,’” said Moore. “We have things for all different ages to do. We have everything from basic subtraction to equivalent fractions.”

All activities are related in some way to math. “We reinforce basic math skills,” said Moore, “but mostly we want them to have fun and enjoy math, and enjoy it with their parents.”

Math Night is traditionally scheduled for the same time each year. “It’s kind of a reward for completing the CMTs [Connecticut Mastery Tests],” said Moore. Small prizes are given out at each station, purchased with profits from the school store. “So the money doesn’t come from taxes,” said Moore.

Some parents take advantage of an opportunity to play. “We had one dad last year who sat at the Pentaminoes table all night,” said Moore. Pentaminoes challenges spatial abilities by requiring the fitting of geometric shapes into a picture “map.”

Other parents simply step back and watch their kids enjoy the activities. “It’s great, because you can just bring them here and let them loose for an hour and a half,” said one mom.


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