CSU, Chico News

Elementary Students Join CSU, Chico Classes for Mathematics

Date: 10-22-2007

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Rapti de Silva

Approximately 160 fourth, fifth and sixth graders from McManus Elementary School will spend the day at California State University, Chico on Friday, Oct. 26, participating in the Mathematics Early Field Experience (MEFE) Day. The day is a celebration of mathematics supported jointly by the University and local elementary partner schools.

This is the fourth semi-annual MEFE. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics hosts this event each fall and spring semester. The partner school for the fall 2007 semester is McManus Elementary. Parkview Elementary students will attend in the spring. The day is the result of contributions from many individuals and groups: Math faculty relocate their classes for the day; the CSU, Chico Mathematics Club helps with organization and provides refreshments to the students; and the Chico Unified School District (CUSD) provides school buses.

During the MEFE, liberal studies students who plan to become teachers engage their elementary partners in mathematical activities designed to be enjoyable and to inspire interest in math. Professor Rapti de Silva and CUSD Teacher-in-Residence Katy Early organize the event. All CSU, Chico faculty who are teaching the courses and all teachers of the children who attend are involved in preparation, delivery and follow-up activities associated with MEFE.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with students doing mental math tasks, exploring numbers and geometry, statistics, and probability concepts with base-10 blocks, tangrams or other materials. Each child works directly with a university student partner from the lower-division Concepts and Structures of Mathematics classes. After a snack recess, students attend a second session, with Patterns and Structures in Mathematics (MATH 310) students, who guide them through a rich lesson focused on an algebraic thinking topic.

“You get experience making a lesson and teaching it, so when you teach the lesson, you get to see how effective it was. You reach a whole new level of mathematical understanding through teaching,” said Genny Moreno who, as a MATH 310 student, will be participating in MEFE for the third time.

“Liberal studies students often describe the MEFE experience as the most memorable and powerful aspect of their mathematics courses. It provides an opportunity to put into practice the mathematics content and pedagogy that has been studied. They learn more about children’s mathematics backgrounds and their ways of thinking. MEFE also strengthens the ties between local school and the University in a way that is beneficial to both,” said Early, who teaches MATH 310.