Making Math Magical: Inspiring a Love of Mathematics
Meet the Makers
Amber Soto, Director of Mathematics Instruction, Implementation and Improvement
What is your favorite TV Show right now?
It is so hard to pick one, but “This Is Us” is definitely high on my list right now. I’m SO SAD that it’s ending! The past few episodes have been particularly emotional! I make sure to have tissues on hand every time I watch!
What would you like to do when you retire?
Honestly, travel, travel and more travel! I used to travel so much when I was younger and I absolutely miss that! There is still so much of this world that I want to see and learn about. It just feels like there is never enough time to see it all!
In line with the theme of your article, do you believe in magic?
Absolutely, but maybe not in the way that you would think. I believe there is magic in so many things everyday that inspire and lift us up to a level of intrigue and fascination. I also believe that there are a lot of things that we simply don’t understand — and the only way to describe what we see or experience is by saying that it is magical.
I recently had the experience of attending the Magic Castle! The performers there were INCREDIBLE! There is no way I could ever describe how they were able to do some of the things they did, but it filled me with a sense of wonder and joy, and it makes me want to go back again!
What is the “Why” for this week’s Making Magic?
For years, math has been seen as strictly a subject of calculation and application. But math is ALSO a subject of patterns and relationships. There are so many beautiful ways in which it can be accessed outside of what is generally taught. If we allow time to explore the part of mathematics that is beautiful and intriguing, and fills us with joy and wonder, then we will be more likely to view it as a much more accessible subject.
This Week’s Focus
How can we inspire our learners to see math as more than just a subject of calculation and application?
Often math is seen as a dry subject — full of steps and rules and algorithms. However, we often forget to connect all of the calculations and applications to the beautiful and intriguing ways in which they can exist in our world. The Fibonacci Sequence (which also encompasses the “Golden Ratio”) is a great example of this! We find the numbers involved in these things all over in our world! The patterns and relationships that coexist between math and nature are inspiring and can lead us to use math in ways that we wouldn’t normally consider in things like engineering and problem-solving.
Similarly, making math topics feel exciting or magical — something that can’t be easily explained until you really dig into the math involved — can generate a feeling of wonder that will organically drive our learners to want to learn more, as well as understand the relationships that create the mystique.
The more we are able to find ways in which to make math something that our learners will want to engage with, the more success we will have overall.
Arthur C. Clarke said that, “Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.” In the movie “Thor”, Thor himself said that he comes from a place where magic and science are one and the same. I want to create an environment in which learners feel this way about math!