The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Natalie Bowen

Math Trail Leads to Hands-on Learning

UTC Professor Dr. Deborah McAllister led a group of local teachers this summer on a "math trail," a collection of community mathematics modules. The teachers were participating in the UTC Summer Urban Institute.

McAllister challenged the Summer Urban Institute teachers to use the physical properties of Brown Academy to solve math problems. Claraniece Collins, Howard School of Academics and Technology, Sylvia Dance, Clifton Hills and Cathy Butler, Howard School of Academics and Technology, estimated the number of students that can be seated on the cafeteria benches. Natalie Bowen was busy figuring the number of floor tiles and the area of the floor in square feet and square yards.

Under McAllister and co-authors Adrian Mealer, Peggy Moyer, Shirley McDonald, and John Peoples, the curriculum evolved as a professional development exercise for teachers. The teachers then use the exercises in their classrooms. The curriculum was well received by the teachers.

“It is not an off-the-shelf replication from a lab manual or a collection of documents,” McAllister said. “It takes place outside of a dorm room or home, and includes more than interaction with word processing and spreadsheet software.”

The prototype site module is the carousel at Coolidge Park, and teachers use critical mathematics skills to figure the measurement of time for one rotation of the carousel, radius or diameter of the carousel and dimensions of the animal.

In one exercise, teachers are asked to find the scale factor of the carousel animal compared to a live animal. Another problem determines how much trash is disposed of at the end of a UTC Mocs football game at Finley Stadium. The book contains 28 activities.

Claraniece Collins, Sylvia Dance and Cathy Butler