Playing roulette and bingo helps children learn real numbers

Eight grade students of the Aguablanca District of the city of Cali improved their mathematical skills thanks to these games and other virtual games such as GeoGebra.

Diego Aguilón Valenciano, a Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) in Palmira M.Sc. in Teaching Exact and Natural Sciences designed a game room for the Gabriel García Márquez School at the Aguablanca District for eight grade students to better understand the features of some numerical sets.

After a survey Aguilón realized that eighth, ninth and tenth grade students could not positively identify several classes of numbers.

“In general, students are unaware of real numbers and therefore the mathematical possibilities they create to solve everyday life issues,” he said.

His work focused on teaching these youngsters the concepts of completeness and real numbers, characterized by that they leave no space and completely fill the numeric line. For instance, when they measure any length it is better to do it with a measuring tape because if they do it with an object or template it will not allow them to measure it correctly.

If they know the concept of completeness, the student will be aware there will be a number that represents the measured amount, i.e. the numerical set of real numbers to solve all situations, besides measuring, counting and ordering numbers.

According to Aguilón, this is an essential concept, because of learning situations in the classroom, students have worked with natural and integer numbers which does not allow them to provide answers to measuring situations. Therefore, “Taking on real numbers and their completeness is entering into the mathematical world. Recognizing that a bad decimal point location could make a bridge fall or making somebody lose a lot of money, product of using only integers”.

Learn by playing

Once the survey was done and after identifying the issues he determined the most frequent activities students engaged in their spare time. He determined that they spent time playing games such as cards, bingo or dominoes.

Therefore he designed a space which enabled them to combine the attractiveness for the games with mathematics. In developing these physical objects he took into account other mathematical games such as equivalent fractions, fractions-rationale, Mendel’s mathematical market and mathematical bingo to adapt them to real numbers.

Along with Industrial Design students they manufactured some physical objects for a multi-level game room comprised by four stages. To advance, students had to pass level one which was about fractions, then level two on “great roulette”, level three on “real concentration” and level four on “mathematical crosswords.”

Regarding virtual objects, they used a software program on the Pythagoras Theorem known as GeoGebra to calculate square roots; it was also used to design strategies which allowed students to find Pi, such as the relationship between length and diameter of a circle; and calculating square roots by circle intersecting on the Cartesian plane.

Furthermore for the interactive game room they designed a numeric line with zoom to help search and locate decimal numbers, for instance.

Outstanding performance

They also implemented a method to plan three activities with eight groups of five students each and a duration of two hours during a year for each activity.

In this manner they passed from 50%, according to a previous survey, to 100% in positively identifying real numbers and integers.

They also passed from 12% to 56% in identifying cardinal numbers as opposed to ordinal numbers; furthermore they also passed from 8% to 63% in identifying integers.

In general, Aguilón says they passed from 9% to 84% in identifying real numbers and progressed from 13% to 80% in identifying different numerical sets.

Thanks to the results of this initiative, the Gabriel García Márquez School is now thinking of using the game room to improve the mathematics competences of 9th grade school children.

Without a doubt, besides being a more pleasant and fun way to enjoy this area of knowledge, in the game room youngsters had the opportunity of acquiring tools to function in several situations of their lives.

Agencia de Noticias UNAL |

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