As we begin our first week here at VAMPY, those of us in the math class are looking forward to days filled with constructing, calculating, and fun problem-solving! The group of students that I am working with during the day are studying Algebra II and Geometry. After completing a pre-assessment this morning, each student was given his/her own textbook and allowed to work at a self-monitored pace. Several of them have already begun testing on the first day!
Students are not just learning the content in their chosen area of mathematics. In addition, they are learning to assess their own understanding, to ask for help when they need it, and to question the real meaning behind the definitions and rules in their textbooks. So far, the assistants and teachers have reviewed students for tests, provided guidance when they begin a new topic, and answered specific questions. However, the students have been enthusiastic to work independently as much as possible.
Although they are not aware of it yet, the questioning and critical thinking skills these students have demonstrated thus far will be put to the test in upcoming study halls. Learners will collaborate with their new friends to solve problems they have never before encountered. Even scarier news: their calculators cannot do the work for them!
Problems on tonight’s agenda include How many zeros are at the end of 50!? and Compute the square root of 1998 × 1996 × 1994 × 1992 + 16. Only by utilizing a variety of tools in their mathematical arsenal will students be able to save themselves from an inordinate amount of calculations. After witnessing their abilities thus far, I feel certain they will rise to the challenge!