Picture provided by the author, attribution CC-BY
Thinking about how to make mathematics interesting for children and how to prompt and encourage them to independently research, search and “dig” new information on Internet, I decided to start a new project at the school level: “History of Mathematics”.
I remembered the subject holding the same name at my university, which, in the multitude of lectures and exercises, was a real refresher for us mathematics students.
The project started last school year (2021/2022) during the time when the Covid-19 sanitary measures were in force. Our school is one of the few that had classes in person throughout the school year, and my students enthusiastically participated in the project. .
The project consists of four activities: (i) Mathematics of ancient times, (ii) Mathematics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, (iii) making greeting cards and decorations for Christmas and New Year (using geometric accessories) and (iv) celebrating Women’s Day (March 8) – Women in Mathematics.
All materials prepared throughout the project were published the school’s website, which recorded a large number of views.
Through their work on posters, presentations and decorating panels, the students showed exceptional talent in artistic expression. They drew famous mathematicians. They introduced us to the mathematics of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks, as well as to the mathematics of ancient India and Arabic mathematics.
Throughout December, they made angels for Christmas decorations. It was interesting to observe them creating and decorating these Christmas ornaments as they were applying certain steps of mathematical construction. A short video was prepared and uploaded on YouTube by the students. The students worked together and helped each other to make the best possible decorations (angels).
In the third month, for Women’s Day, the students presented in more details famous women mathematicians, their biographies, and their achievements in the science of mathematics.
I have decided introducing certain changes this school year,
Fifth grade students made presentations and posters and shared their knowledge of the mathematics of the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Sumerians, Incas, Indians, Greeks and Chinese.
Other students in the school followed their schoolmates’ lectures with great interest and learned how the Incas counted (with the help of knots), how the ancient Egyptians marked fractions, and how the Babylonians displayed sequences of numbers.
During the project, seventh-grade students learned about the work of the free web tool Canva and created interesting comics about famous mathematicians (for example Ruđer Bošković and Luca Pacioli ). Great masterpieces of our students were created with minimal effort.
Ružica Mikić is a mathematics teacher with 11.5 years of experience. She is also a mentor at the Lučko Primary School in Zagreb, Croatia. She graduated from the Faculty of Science (Department of Mathematics) of the University of Zagreb. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with students, organizes various workshops and seminars aiming at popularizing mathematics in schools.