Goudreau Museum of Mathematics in Art & Science

Sixth Annual "Pi Day" Press Coverage


Newsday, April 18, 1999, ppA39,  - Copyright 1999 - Newsday, Inc.

Creativity Adds Up In Math Contest

By Thomas Frank and Victor Chen. STAFF WRITERS

    Eleven-year-old Tim Leung proudly showed off his handiwork: a
rendition of the classic Monopoly board game, with a twist.


    Players still move small pieces, such as a silver dog and a top hat,
around the board, but instead of trying to buy real estate, they compete
for pieces of a tessellation, a drawing that features repeating
patterns.

    Tim, a sixth-grader at Candlewood Middle School in Dix Hills,
invented the game along with classmate Mario Echeverria to enter the
sixth annual Math Awareness Day contest, sponsored by the New Hyde
Park-based Goudreau Museum of Mathematics in Arts and Science. The
contest, which drew more than 400 entries from students on Long Island
and in New York City, aims to stimulate interest in math and was at
least partly successful with Tim.

    "The projects we do are fun," he said, "but I don't like sitting in
math class."

    Tim's is a familiar lament to math educators such as Bruce Waldner,
director of the sciences at the Comsewogue School District in Port
Jefferson Station, who came up with the idea for the contest.

    "The purpose of the competition is to instill a better appreciation
of what math is all about, to have students be involved in math in
nontraditional ways so that math is not just drill and routines,"
Waldner said. "We're trying to bring out the creative side."

    To that end, it succeeded. Students in grades four through 12
created posters, videos and puzzles, wrote essays, song lyrics and
poetry. Katie Colletti, a fifth-grader at Clinton Avenue Elementary
School in Port Jefferson Station who plays the clarinet, filmed a video
showing how music is connected to math. Paola Martinez, a 12-year-old
student from the Bronx, made an exhibit with aluminum foil and Styrofoam
showing how diamonds are made.

    More than 320 contest entries were on display yesterday at the
museum, in the Herricks Community Center, as the 78 winning entries were
announced and their creators were given certificates and ribbons.
Among the winners were Kim Rofrano and Carmel Miller, sixth-graders
at Candlewood Middle School, who invented Math Genius, a Trivial
Pursuit-style board game featuring math questions. The girls, both from
Dix Hills, worked on the game for a month and won a third-place prize in
the puzzles and games category, but they weren't quite won over to math.

    "Not really," Carmel said when asked if she likes math, "but this is
fun."

Copyright 1999, Newsday Inc.