Alleviate Math Fears with a Math Fair!


In the spring of 2015, the Adult Program at Sullivan County BOCES, NY hosted a full day Student Numeracy Adventures Day. This guide is the result of that fair and the other math fairs that followed. Patricia Helmuth, who is a NYSED/CUNY teacher leader and teaches with Sullivan County BOCES in Monticello, NY, put together this guide. Patricia and her fellow teachers brought all their students together for a day of student driven, no-stress math activities accessible to students at all ability levels: ABE, HSE, and ESOL students. The math fair included games, Internet activities, and numerous problem-solving adventures that utilized manipulatives. Teachers prepared for the event by experiencing a mini-version of a math fair in advance.

The math fair guide includes everything you need to do a math fair at your program, including planning, promoting, preparing for the event, and all the activities, games, and problems you would need for the event.

Patricia packaged the math fair materials as part of a mini-grant project with the NYSED/CUNY Teacher Leader program. Since then, Patricia has presented the math fair at multiple conferences as a way to support mathematical mindsets and promote a problem-solving approach to teaching mathematics. The math fair has even been done in a prison by Wendy Bopp at Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie, NY.

We highly recommend these materials and the idea of a math fair. It’s a great way to bring your students, teachers and other staff together to change math mindsets and have fun. Please share your questions below and report back if you have a math fair at your program.

There are excellent activities here in the following content areas:

Area, Geometry, Volume, Number and Quantity, Perimeter, Positive and Negative Integers, Probability, Pythagorean Theorem, Reading Graphs, Introducing Functions, Developing Algebraic Reasoning through Visual Patterns, Warm-ups


One thought on “Alleviate Math Fears with a Math Fair!

  1. Congratulations to the whole team at the Adult Learning Center at LaGuardia Community College! They used Patricia’s guide to organize two wonderful Math Fair events (one for morning students and one for evening students)!

    The whole staff all worked so hard to make it happen and the effort paid off–it was very successful. They asked students to comment on the event—by far, the responses were very positive. Almost every student said it was “better than expected.”

    Some of the other comments included:
    • “Great experience!”
    • “Being with everyone in the program and helping each other out with the activity”
    • “The best part of the day was working in groups”
    • “You should do this more often!”
    • “The best part of the day was interacting and helping one another with the work.”
    • “Best part of the day was that you can work with other higher groups in the class and that’s how I can tell how far I learned math this semester”
    • “The best part was that with the activities I was able to understand and learn math”
    • “Getting to know some of my classmates better and working together was great.”
    • “I would like to thank you for making this great day for us to have fun and learn at the same time”

    These comments appeared over and over again on all the surveys.

    Kudos to everyone involved!

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