Saturday, February 28, 2015

Creativity of Palestinian math teachers

Yes, I am here - in Palestine, where I am teaching History of Mathematics and Vector Analysis in Palestinian Technical University - Kadoorie. Besides teaching these two courses I am working with students in creating exhibit about mathematics which hopefully will grow into something larger and more permanent. 
Today I was in Nablus and saw this:

It reminded me that I still owe this blog post to all creative and passionate teachers I met on our trip to five schools near and in Tulkarem. We were welcomed very sincerely with traditional Arabic coffee, homemade bread, juice, tea, sweets - something like that in every school. But most importantly - we had a chance to see wonderful exhibits made y teachers and their students in order to make mathematics more colorful and fun. I tried to take as much pictures as I could, not all of them came out well but I hope they captured the creative spirit in teaching mathematics. From five schools we visited, four were girls schools and one small one was co-ed. 
Mathematics becomes a fun when you can play with it. Students who were demonstrating us how to play these learning games were very confident and clearly enjoyed this playful approach to learning.
But these games teaches not only mathematics - they are all created from what would be considered trash - this is all very creative recycling that teaches students that things could and should be re-used. Recently one of our university hosts asked me if there is anything I do not like in his country. And I quickly replied - yes. Perhaps, too quickly because he looked at me quite surprised. I explained - what I do not like here is enormous amount of trash almost everywhere. What I cannot grasp is that people here are so passionate about Palestine at the same time tolerate their beloved land covered in trash. I think that keeping your homeland clean must be a part of patriotism.
I was very happy to see how students and teachers put a lot of efforts to re-use plastic bottles, jars, coffee cups, plastic silverware etc.

Here is a game where you spin two wheels then calculate result and that is where your colored cup will go on the board.
Good use of velcro to demonstrate formula of the area of the circle

This girl was ready to recite for us 400 digits of pi. 
The numbers on this "calculator" are glued on plastic water bottles.
Another use of water bottles to demonstrate how to solve simple equations. (we were visiting mostly elementary schools.)
Some examples of students geometric artwork.
Another way to solve an equation.

Wedding cake? No, illustration of number sets - the bottom is real numbers.
Another way to solve equations.
Greater, smaller or equal?

Which angle is which?
This is larger project students were working on - the school got a little extra piece of land, (which is really good news because most of the schools had almost no yard or very little one); and students are building scale model how they are going to use this land, doing all measurements, planning and calculation. 

No need to explain this ;-)
some  like the math to be illuminated
This is for me - for learning arabic numerals from 1 to 100. Remember - it all starts in bottom right corner...
Another project - building farm from geometric shapes

what is function?
I like to show this magic trick to my audiences but here it was on display.
triangles with the same base and same height have the same area.
of these trig functions - but this is very helpful tool.
I did not know this trick how to remember sin and cos values for these angles!
do you recognize Pascal triangle?

David and I were accompanied by very nice people from Education Department who really care about the education in this area.
Equations and the real life
These girls were playing math game during their break.
Thank you for such warm welcome and great math exhibit! 
The most successful exhibit was were math and art teachers worked together. This school is very lucky to have talented art teacher. Wouldn't it be great to have walls only for murals like these?

I do hope that this wall one day in not so far future will be gone. For now it is what David and I see when we turn towards Mediterranean sea which is only 12 km from Tulkarem if you get through this wall. This wall also has cut off part of university campus which is here seen from the wall side.