Lawrence schoolchildren don't start classes until next week, but some students at Grant School already are brushing up on their math and seeming to enjoy it.
About 30 Grant students spent three days this week breaking in the school's new Math Learning Center. Included in the center are four computers with math-related software, a library with storybooks related to math, instructional television and several other math-teaching tools.
"We see the center as giving kids an environment in which they can experience mathematics," said Grant teacher Beth Cigler. "We're trying to make math a real-life experience for kids and help prepare them for the future jobs they're going to have."
In one project this week, students estimated how many raisins were in a box. After counting the raisins, students used the computer to generate graphs showing how their estimates compared to the actual number. In addition to providing a math lesson, the raisins also made a tasty treat.
ALLISON RAMIREZ, who'll enter fifth grade next week, said the learning center is "pretty cool."
"You can do a lot of neat things on the computer," Allison explained. "I just got done making a line graph. It was hard work, but we got it done."
David Bireta, who'll also be in fifth grade, agreed that the learning center makes math more interesting.
"It's got these really neat programs on the computer, and the activities are really fun," he said.
David said that in one lesson on dimensions, he cut a shape out of a piece of graph paper that could be folded to cover all sides of a cube.
Cigler said the learning center has many other math "manipulatives," or hands-on lesson materials, for students to use. She said a "tangram" of five triangles, a square and a parallelogram can be used to teach everything from numbers to probability to the Pythagorean Theorem.
"WE'RE GOING to be taking our classes into the learning center daily," Cigler said. She said the center also could be used to by the district for staff development, by Kansas University to teach education students, and by various other groups in the community, such as the Boy Scouts or 4-H clubs.
Cigler said many of the center's materials were purchased with the help of The Lawrence Business-Education Partnership Foundation, which solicited donations from Lawrence businesses. Helping to purchase books for the library was the Jack Wolfe Memorial Fund, which was named for the late grandfather of some Grant students.
Cigler said the Grant Community Club also has been instrumental in getting the learning center started. She said the school hopes to be able to buy a few more computers this year and eventually to add a science component to the learning center.