Math = Love: Tulsa Math Teachers' Circle Summer Immersion Workshop 2018

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tulsa Math Teachers' Circle Summer Immersion Workshop 2018

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2018 Summer Immersion Workshop for the Tulsa Math Teachers' Circle held at The University of Tulsa. This was my third summer to attend, and it was a blast as always. Here's a small peek at what we experienced during the week as told through the pictures I took.

The sessions were led by Dr. Harold Reiter from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. Brandy Wiegers from Central Washington University, and Amy Schachle from the University of Tulsa. 

Dr. Reiter kicked things off with an interesting question stemming from the above photo. Are the numbers getting bigger or smaller?

Then, we jumped into a discussion of the area model for multiplication. Having used the "box method" as I normally call it in my classroom for several years now, I was a bit bored during this section. But, I could tell that this idea was new to many of the teachers at the workshop.

We spent quite a bit of time exploring the painted cube problem. This is one of those famous problems that I have often seen included in books and curriculum, but I don't think I've ever actually set down and solved the problem myself.

We ended with a fun twist on cutting the painted cube to figure out how many cuts it would take to end up with 1 x 1 cubes.

Dr. Brandy Wiegers introduced us to some mathematical biology. My group REALLY struggled with this task because we got caught up in too many specifics.

Next, we looked at describing population dynamics mathematically.

I didn't get any pictures of the Oh Deer! activity because I was up and moving around while pretending to be a deer, but I can say that it was a blast. If you're interested in learning more about this activity, it was adapted from Project Wild.

We returned to our seats for some noticing/wondering.

If you're not familiar with this chart, it's from Math For Love and part of the game Prime Climb (affiliate link) which I highly recommend. I was first introduced to Prime Climb through a Math Teachers' Circle event, and you can read about my experiences/reflections here.

We were introduced to a new-to-me game called "Criss Cross." You can read more about the game in this PDF.

Dr. Brandy demonstrated how the game worked with a volunteer.

Then, we were instructed to play in pairs and collect data as we went. We had to collect data regarding how many vertices, edges, and faces were in the finished game and whether the first player or second player won.

Our task was to determine if the first player or second player would win in a game with 101 vertices. Don't read the next image too carefully if you don't want to see the answer!

Dr. Reiter introduced us to the concept of factor tree puzzles. This puzzle was created by one of the other teachers participating in the workshop. Each letter represents a distinct digit. The terminating branches represent prime numbers. Your task is to determine the digit represented by each variable.

We were encouraged to try our hands at making our own puzzles, and I had a lot of fun doing so. I will be sharing those in a separate post, though!

One thing I love about our summer immersion workshops is that we are forced to move around and work with different people each session. Each table was labeled with the photograph of a mathematician. And, we were assigned a different mathematician almost every session. I have a tendency to work with the same small group because I'm definitely on the shy side. So, it was good to be forced out of my comfort zone and get to work with everyone.

For our next activity, we were given strips of paper that were five inches and seven inches long.

Our first challenge with these strips was to figure out how to measure an item that was exactly one inch long using only the five and seven inch strips.

The challenges progressed, asking us to measure something that was two inches long or three inches long. I was really surprised by the simplest solution to two inches because the method my brain concocted was definitely more complicated than it had to be.

This idea was then extended to the famous problem of using a five gallon and seven gallon bucket to obtain exactly one gallon. I have done this task with my students before, so it was interesting to see it introduced a different way.

On the last day of our three day workshop, we were given the chance to solve a few KenKens. Then, we were challenged to make our own. This turned out to be a lot of fun. I had no problem making one. I did have trouble, however, solving the puzzle that I made because it turned out to be a bit ambiguous. I had to add some extra clues to make it solveable.

We were each given a kenken book of our own to take home. I received The Little Pink Book of KenKen (affiliate link).

Shaun was at the workshop as well, and he got to bring home a copy of The Big, Bad Book of KenKen (affiliate link).

The entire group was mesmerized by this prime number chart shared by Dr. Reiter on the back of his business card. I got so excited by this chart, that I have already typed up a giant version to hang in my new classroom. It needs lots and lots of proofreading before I will feel comfortable sharing my poster-sized version, though.

Not sure how to read this chart? Check out this website for an explanation as well as downloadable cards and bookmark templates.

I was super excited to get to experience an Ozobot (affiliate link) for the first time. If you're not familiar with Ozobot, they are code-following robots. You use colored markers to create paths for the robots to follow. Then, you instruct the robots about what to do using different combinations of colors. I've seen them online a lot, but it was exciting to get to try my hand at using one.

Our first task was to calibrate our Ozobot by placing it on the black circle on this page.

After calibration, we set the ozobot down on a line and watched to see what happened. Our task was to figure out what the different color combinations told the ozobot to do.

After figuring out some of the color combinations, we were given paper and markers with instructions to try out our own color combinations to see what happened. My table learned pretty quickly that the color segments have to be short or the ozobot won't follow them!

After figuring out some more combinations ourselves, we were given a sheet that contained all of the color combinations and what actions they stood for. It was super cool to be able to place the Ozobot on this sheet and watch it perform each action.

Now it was time for our big challenge. With our group, we had to make a large track for the Ozobot to follow that included 5 tricks, 4 turns, and 3 speed changes. Each person in the group had to make one page of the track.

Here was my group's track. At the point this photo was taken, it was still a work in progress. :)

I had a lot of fun playing with the Ozobot, and I definitely see potential for use in the classroom. I'm not sure I could justify the purchase price without having grant money to purchase them, though. I think they would be more suited for a STEM elective class than my math classes, though.

Our final session of the workshop involved another math-y tool that I've wanted to play with for years but never got a chance: Zometool (affiliate link).

We ended by taking our Zometool creations outside for some bubble-making adventures. Sadly, it was too windy for it to work. :(

I hope you enjoyed this small peek into what a Math Teachers' Circle is like. You can find out more and find one (hopefully) near you here.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to attend something like this. Do you think teachers from other states/countries could come? It looks like alot of fun, and a great networking tool also! :-)