Learning math can be fun

Shirley Lam

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Magic, Lego, Morse code¡K Teaching with things that kids like helps them have fun with mathematics, Dr Benny Hon told an audience of some 200 primary and secondary school principals, teachers and parents on 31 May.

In the "Seminar on Innovative Mathematics" organized by CityU Professional Services Ltd (CPS), Dr Hon, Associate Head and Associate Professor of the Department of Mathematics, shared his experience of how to spark enjoyment of math through fun and games. Children trained to do repetitive calculations often find the subject difficult and boring, observed Dr Hon. "There are innovative and creative ways of teaching mathematics," he said. "Through games such as chess, Lego, or magic, competitions and quizzes, and daily activities like shopping, we help students understand mathematics from another angle, learn about its application in daily life, and thus rekindle their interest in the subject."

In the Summer Math Camp for Gifted Children that he organized with the School of Continuing and Professional Education (SCOPE) in 2001 and 2002, Dr Hon applied his concept of innovative mathematics. The camps stirred participants' interest in the subject, plus it taught them the importance of team work and cooperation. Following the success of the Innovative Mathematics camps, Dr Hon ran a pilot course as an extra-curricular activity at the Pui Ching Primary School in November 2002, which received a favourable response from the principal, teachers, parents and students.

With the ongoing assistance of CPS, (a non-profit company owned by CityU promoting consultancy work and contract research), Dr Hon aims to introduce the extra-curricular course in other primary schools. "I hope to help children become fond of mathematics; I do not intend the course contents to supplement what is taught in the school curriculum," he emphasized. CPS also plans to offer Innovative Mathematics to primary and secondary school students this summer, either on the CityU campus, or at local schools.

In addition to organizing courses for students, Dr Hon is eager to share his experience with in-service and prospective teachers. His newest course, "Innovative Mathematics for Primary Education," will be incorporated in the BA (Hons) for Primary Education offered through SCOPE in the upcoming academic year.

The Innovative Math project opens up a new area of development for the Mathematics Department. At the same time, the courses furnish hands-on experience to second- and final-year math majors who get involved as mentors. Dr Hon summed it up, "Innovative Mathematics is really a win-win-win situation for schoolchildren, CityU and our Mathematics students."



 

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