March Mathness Luau adds up to fun in Pownal


POWNAL -- The weather outside was frightful, but inside Pownal Elementary on Thursday evening, students, parents, and teachers put on a luau.

The March Mathness Luau, to be specific, was organized by math teacher Cynthia Duplisea, who teaches Math Lab, a 45-minute weekly class that teaches students basic math skills, and how to have fun with them.

"Most students now don't do a lot of game play at home," said Duplisea, who lauded the event as a chance for the kids to teach their parents about some of the games they play.

The event featured a large amount of pizza, as well as water donated by the North Adams, Mass. Wal-Mart. Duplisea said 57 students and 45 parents had signed up for the event, although she expected some would not make it due to the weather.

Upon arrival into the school's gymnasium, each guest was presented with a lei, and invited to help themselves to pizza.

Unsurprisingly, Hawaiian pizza was a popular option.

At one activity station, kids had the chance to shoot miniature basketballs into nets hung on the wall. There was, however, a catch. The students had to count off, either by two's or three's, before each shot for it to count.

At a second, the "Estimation Station," kids had to write down guesses for how many objects, which included plastic frogs, buttons, and discs, were inside various containers. The winners were announced partway through the night.

Of course, it wasn't all fun and games. The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union's mathematics teacher leader, Pat Conway, was on hand to tell parents about Common Core, and answer any questions they might have about the system.

A Pownal teacher was in his classroom, demonstrating the Smart Board, an interactive whiteboard, to parents. Pownal has a Smart Board in every classroom.

At one point, two students were using the Smart Board to play a math-based game in which a grid of numbers appeared before the student. They then had to select each pair of numbers that added up to 100. The game, however, was a little too easy for one of the students, who explained his winning strategy. Simply pick the largest number, then the smallest number, and repeat until all the numbers are gone, said the student, whose teacher seemed unsure whether to praise him for his ingenuity or reprove him for cheating the system.

Other stations included one where students "fished" for numbered rubber ducks, the goal being to make your ducks add up to 50.

Winners were given prizes, which included toy cars and pencils.

At another station, kids "dug for artifacts" in sandboxes, trying to find numbers that would make combinations of five, 10, or 20.

Finally, at the "Family Bonding Tree," students and their parents each wrote a number on a piece of paper, then added, or sometimes multiplied, the numbers together, creating a new number which represented their "bond." The paper was then hung on a paper tree on the wall.

The luau also featured a drawing for a door prize, and a play performed by students based on "The Magic Treehouse" series of books by Mary Pope Osbourne.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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