Students put mathematics skills to use during museum field trip SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

NEIGHBORS

June 22, 1993|By MAUREEN RICE

Third-graders from Carrolltowne Elementary School, on a field trip to the Farm Museum in Westminster last Wednesday, astounded the clerk in the museum store with their numerical acumen.

Teacher Yvonne Costley said, "When they bought their item, which cost 85 cents, they handed the volunteer the right amount. She was amazed that children that young could figure out how much money they needed."

What makes the children so smart? Number sense, of course. Ms. Costley was one of four county teachers who participated in a grant project for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to devise a way of instructing teachers to teach number sense to students. The county school board presented Ms. Costley with a certificate recognizing her participation in the national program.

"Number sense is just what it seems," Ms. Costley said. "We connect math concepts with everyday situations, so the children understand why they need to know how to do it. It's just what they need to know."

Her class has performed such practical experiments as, when studying time, keeping their heads on their desks while listening to music and raising their hands when they think a minute has passed. When studying percentages, they learned about calculating how much of a tip to leave in a restaurant.

"It's intuitive math," Ms. Costley said.

She said the children have to think about the relationships of numbers and explain their reasoning every day.

"They are learning to think mathematically, not just compute," she said.

Ms. Costley and several other teachers from five counties spent 2 1/2 years working under Francis Fennel of Western Maryland College, defining and polishing the Number Sense Now program.

Their work culminated with the production of three videotapes for teachers from kindergarten through sixth grade. The tapes -- called "What is Number Sense?"; "Number Sense -- A Way of Teaching"; and "The Number Sense Connection" -- are available for teachers from the NCTM office, 2020 N. 14th St., Arlington, Va. 22201. The fax number is (703)

525-7000.

*

There are still some openings in the Piney Run Nature Camp.

The program, which runs from July 12 to Aug. 6 in one-week sessions, has a new strategy this year. Children in different grades will study a particular aspect of nature.

Children who finish kindergarten this year will study "All Kinds of Animals"; first-graders will study "Planet Earth" (elementary earth science); second-graders will pursue "Plants," a study of the importance of plant life; third-graders will take "Forests," forest ecology and habitats; fourth-graders will study "Water," aquatic habitats and other wet wonders; and fifth- and sixth-graders will study ecology and conservation.

"There are still a few openings in the first-, third- and fourth-grade programs," naturalist Deanna Hoffman said. "We'd like to see them fill up, so anyone interested should get in touch with us as soon as possible."

For information, call 795-6043.

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