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Playing with numbers

March 16, 2023

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Capilano University students in Math 190 present hands-on learning math games and activities to students from Blueridge Elementary School in North Vancouver.

By Communications, Capilano University.

There is nothing quite like the spark of energy elementary school students inject onto a university campus, explains Paul Ottaway, PhD, math instructor at Capilano University. Recently, students from Ottaway’s Mathematics 190, Math for Elementary School Teachers, course learned this first-hand when they hosted a SNAP Math Fair for grade four to seven students. 

Held twice a year, the math fair is an opportunity for CapU students to put their course learning into practice. CapU students create puzzles and games related to a chosen theme and host a math fair where they present their math activities for up to six classes from local elementary schools as part of their term work for the course.

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On Friday, March 3, 2023, Math 190 students hosted classes from Blueridge and Brooksbank elementary schools in North Vancouver and Bowen Island Community School. 

“It’s a great program for my students and the CapU students,” said Lisa Madill, Grade 4 teacher at Blueridge Elementary School who attended the fair with her students. “The hands-on learning here teaches creative, problem-solving skills, and provides fun ways for students to feel successful at math, particularly for students who may come in with a mindset that they aren’t good at math.” 

Math 190 is a prerequisite for all students planning to go forward and complete a Bachelor of Education degree after leaving Capilano University. Some of the students in the class are beginning their journey towards becoming a K-12 teacher; others have already studied to become an Education Assistant or an early childhood educator, worked in those fields and decided to re-train to become a classroom teacher. 

For Ottaway, this connection with K-12 teaching brings him full circle. Both his parents are teachers and he completed his Bachelor of Education and taught school before completing his doctorate in Mathematics and teaching in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at CapU.

For CapU, the Snap Math Fair is in line with its leading goals of building closer connections with the communities it serves; the program connects faculty and students with local school districts and potential future CapU students. 

“For us, it’s a fun field trip close to the school, plus I see it as an opportunity for the CapU students to get a sense of the time and investment that goes into creating special and interactive teaching tools, and that will help them become better teachers,” said Madill.

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Ashlea McRae, Capilano University student and graduate of North Vancouver's Windsor Secondary School, presents her Little Red's Adventure math game for students.