Happy ending

This afternoon we were visiting a middle school in Brooklyn where several groups of seventh grade girls (mostly ages 12-13, all black or hispanic) were presenting their original ideas for math games. This is part of a Motorola Foundation funded project that we’re doing at the Games for Learning Institute. One of the girls showed a math puzzle containing the following algebra problem: “g / 6 = 36”. The goal was to figure out the value of “g”.

I wondered to myself whether she was really expecting kids to know the value of 36 × 6, or was just getting the algebra wrong (ie: whether what she’d really meant to write was “g × 6 = 36”).

So after her group was finished presenting its game idea, I asked her: “What’s the answer for ‘g’ in your equation ‘g / 6 = 36′”?

With no hesitation, she replied “Six!” Alas, it was as I had feared.

But then, about ten seconds later, another girl, a little 12 year old who had been very quiet up till that point, piped up — “Oh I know!”

“Ok, what is it?” I asked, trying not to get my hopes up.

“Two hundred and sixteen!”

Which completely made my day. A happy ending after all. And maybe even a future collaborator.

2 Responses to “Happy ending”

  1. Dagmar says:

    With this wonderful blog entry, you made my day! Thank you so much.

  2. Mari says:

    :) But this might make my French husband wanting to move us to France for our kids’ math elementary education. Already in a little country village school there, the 3rd grade math was about 2 yrs advanced than NYC PS…

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