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Math Blast event draws families to Armin Jahr

Sisters Aniah and Olivia Smaw cut out pieces for their “ladybug clock” at a Math Blast event. Armin Jahr Elementary hosted the event for families to explore math together.  - Seraine Page/staff photo
Sisters Aniah and Olivia Smaw cut out pieces for their “ladybug clock” at a Math Blast event. Armin Jahr Elementary hosted the event for families to explore math together.
— image credit: Seraine Page/staff photo

Parents and children huddled around board games, iPods and craft projects during a special district-wide event at Armin Jahr Elementary last week.

More than two hundred guests gathered in the school gymnasium at the start of the event to eat some dinner before heading off to play board games focused on arithmetic as part of the “Math Blast” program.  The event was set as a way to encourage students in math through hands-on activities.

“We’re so happy everyone is here and spilling out the door,” said Joyce Johnson, a para-educator.

Prior to grabbing a slice of pizza for dinner, families gathered together to get a photo taken. A high school student manned the camera as parents posed with their children while holding various picture frames to frame their faces.

“We are thrilled at the turnout tonight,” said Armin Jahr Principal Mike Sellers. “We know you’ll have a great time with the math stations.”

Sellers’ calculations were correct.

After dinner, families shuffled to and from nine different stations inside classrooms to get students involved in the project on a beginning, intermediate or advanced level. Students quickly scrambled to their spots around classroom tables to listen to instructions for the lesson on hand.

High school students led the sessions as mentors to the students. Bremerton High School students Asja Jackson and Angelina Hanson saw Math Blast as an opportunity to volunteer while sharing their love of math. In total, 36 high school math mentors attended the event.

“I just really enjoy math and think it’s a great way to be a leader with younger kids,” said Hanson, an 11th grader.

Hanson and Jackson led the “It’s About Time” session, where students made ladybug “clocks” out of paper plates and added bobby pins as the hands of the clock. Parents were encouraged to ask their children different scenarios regarding time.

Armin Jahr third grader Jenna Clarke noted that she wanted to come to the event because of her love for mathematics. Clark started at the “It’s About Time” session first before moving on to other stations.

“Math, that’s my favorite subject,” she said. “It’s really fun, and my teacher thinks I’m good at it. If you don’t know math when you get older, you have to re-start grades.”

Armin Jahr Elementary Math Specialist Lisa Concepcion-Elm said the event provided families with “quality questioning strategies” that students need to know. To her, the event was a success partially due to the in-depth dialogue students could have regarding math.

Games included Chutes and Ladders, creating polygons with geobands, Bingo, counting games and more. Even though families were testing predictions, collecting and interpreting data and solving problems, the overall goal was for families to get pumped about playing mathematical games together, event coordinators said.

Sisters Aniah and Olivia Smaw were brought to the event by their grandmother. The two sat together giggling as they concentrated on cutting out the face of their ladybug clock.

Both girls agreed that math is an important skill to learn.

“Because when you grow up, you have to learn a lot of hard things,” said Olivia Smaw, 8. The second grader noted that math is just the beginning of difficult subjects to learn.

Their grandmother said even before the event started, the girls were ecstatic about the possibility of attending.

“They wanted to come,” said Judy Lee. “They need to do stuff like this. They were excited, so grandma’s gonna bring them.”

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