Fun with Math: Da Vinci Math Festival

On May 12 starting at 9:00 A.M., Da Vinci Junior High School will hold a Math Festival to show young students, grades four through nine, that math is fun. Ms. Caroline Loomis, a math teacher at Da Vinci Junior High, brought this event to Davis after she attended one in the Bay Area. “[…] I was floored. There was a room full of 500 kids and they’re all playing with math, and it was all of these hands-on things and puzzles. It just blew me away,” explained Ms. Loomis.

The idea and goal of the event is simple. “I want [the students] to come and have fun,” said Loomis. It is all too common for students in the early years of their education to think math is too hard or silly, resulting in prolonged distaste for the subject. With this event, Ms. Loomis hopes to show attendees that mathematics isn’t just numbers, but about developing critical thinking skills to apply in the real world. “Math is about a lot more than just what x2 means or what the value of it is. I really want people to come and try the logic puzzles and see things they can make and patterns,” Loomis passionately explained.

During this event, there will be many tables set up around the Indoor Commons with a variety of puzzles and problems to solve. Each table requires one person to run the activity and play along should they so choose. “To be a table mentor, you just hang out at the table and you don’t have to know the math you just have to encourage kids to come try it,” says Ms. Loomis. “Maybe make suggestions like, ‘Well have you thought about this?’ It’s never ‘Do this’ or ‘Do it this way.’ It’s all about, ‘Well have you thought about this one yet?’ that kind of thing.”

Though the event is for students in ninth grade and below, Ms. Loomis believes that high school students add value to the event as table mentors. In a study published in Journal of Education Psychology, it was found that peer to peer education and assistance improves cognitive function, lowers stress around the topic and generally increases satisfaction with the material. By encouraging young students to persevere through math, high school students can create a lasting impact on a younger life.

Even if you cannot come to the event, Ms. Loomis encourages the high school students to still get involved in promoting the event. “ I would love some high school kids to bring their younger siblings or their next-door neighbors or the kids they babysit and come and bring some kids to play,” explained Ms. Loomis.

If you are available to help run the event, please email Ms. Loomis at cloomis@djusdk12ca.org for more information. If you are not available, you still have the opportunity to change a student’s view of math. Encourage your friends and family to attend this event to try out the math in a different, engaging way.

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