By Caleb Nordgren
Holt Journal staff writer
Rarely is a middle school basketball court reserved for math. Hope Middle School’s Feb. 25 Math Carnival was an exception to that rule, however.
Parents and students gathered in Hope’s gym at 6 p.m. for a night of math-based games. Everyone who attended was given $20 in fake money to play the games, and at the end of the night, players traded in their funny money for raffle tickets. The tickets could be entered in any one of about 20 raffles to win Legos, an iPod lamp or t-shirts, among other things.The event was created to “build a bridge between home and school,” fifth-grade teacher Amanda Gleason said.
“We really wanted to make sure (students) have fun and have games to play at home (with their parents),” she said.
The carnival — the first such event at Hope, although nearby Washington Woods Middle School held its own math carnival last year, Gleason said — was organized by Gleason, fifth-grade teacher Rochelle Hosler and sixth-grade teacher Katie Bielecki, Hope Principal Jennifer Goodman said.
“All the credit goes to Amanda and Rochelle (and Katie),” Goodman said.
The event took several weeks to plan and organize, Hosler said, but the nine games were the easy part. Hosler said the games all come from the school’s curriculum and students play a few of the games regularly. The games were run by teachers and older students from other schools who volunteered.
The tricky part, according to Gleason, was getting the prizes, which were donated by local businesses. Washington Woods donated game pieces from their carnival, she said, but the prizes and about $400 for assorted costs were donated to the school.
Holt resident Craig Smith, who attended with his son Eli, a Hope sixth-grader, said the carnival was good for the kids.“Anything that can get the kids interested in math, as opposed to sitting at home watching TV, is definitely beneficial,” Craig Smith said.
Holt Junior High eighth-grader Haven Leal, who helped run one of the games, said she got involved at Hope when she started helping her dad’s girlfriend’s son with math after school. Then, when a teacher asked her to help with the carnival, she agreed to work one of the tables. She said an event like the carnival would probably make her job as a tutor easier.
“It’s a better activity than sitting at home,” Leal said. “And it’s a good experience for kids to help with their math.”
Bielecki, who described the event as a way for students to start “enjoying math and seeing numbers and experiencing numbers in a fun way,” said she wants to have more math carnivals and for them to get “bigger and bigger” in the future.
Goodman echoed Bielecki, and said she hopes to continue the math carnival to connect parents and teachers.
“We want to continue to have parent nights where we can bring the teachers and parents together,” Goodman said.