Mathematician of the Month – Somerville

Mary Somerville, a Scottish science writer and polymath, was nominated to jointly be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society at the same time as Caroline Herschel (the great German British astronomer). And coming at a time when women’s participation in science and math was discouraged, this accomplishment was highly praiseworthy on her part.

Image (Blurb 6)

The young girl whose favorite pastime once used to be looking after the family chickens and hunting for starfish and crabs on the beach once unexpectedly encountered an algebraic puzzle with X’s and Y’s in a magazine. Our budding mathematician was very intrigued and eager to learn more on the subject. But unfortunately, her parents were of the belief that a woman’s constitution could not handle much intellectual effort without causing damage to her physical and mental health and so discontinued her studies.

But our enterprising lady would not accept defeat. She began by sneaking in on her brother’s math tutorials to learn more about algebra. She also creeped into her father’s study every now and then and read his books on navigation. She taught herself the Latin language so that she could learn more about Euclid and his geometry. Her parents eventually came to know that she was spending her evenings studying and so they confiscated her candles. But Mary found another way around this roadblock – she started memorizing mathematical problems and then solved them in her head in the dark!

An outstanding mathematician, astronomer, geographer as well as scientist of the Victorian period, Mary Somerville has not only the Somerville College in Oxford University named after her, but also an Arctic island by her last name. On her demise, she was rightfully dubbed ‘The Queen of Nineteenth Century Science’ by a newspaper.

Advertisements

5 Back-to-School Classroom Activities for Kids

It’s the festive time of the year again! Back in those days when I used to teach, I remember that kids coming back from the Christmas and New Year vacations would mean that they were in no mood to get back to their books. As a result, homework also suffered during the first week of the New Year or so. And hence, I always used to try my best to come up with a few fun activities to carry out in the classroom with the kids to get them back on track.

Preparing lesson plans and looking for fun ideas for classroom activities is a never-ending process for most teachers. Group activities can build rapport, encourage the class to connect with each other, and produce better quality work if planned well. So what can a teacher do to help her students get to know one another better and foster a healthy community environment? Here are a few fun classroom activity ideas to help your class have fun and become more active.

Image (Article 4)

New Classroom” by Bart Everson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Classroom activity #1 – The Line of Silence

Ask the students to get into a line based on any criterion such as height, shirt color, shoe color, etc. The challenge is not to talk to each other while they get themselves arranged in a line. Play a couple of rounds of this classroom activity with a different criterion in each round.

Classroom activity #2 – The Color Coded Chits

Fold small chits of paper and write a color from the following on each of them – red, orange, yellow, blue, brown, and green. Next, write the names of the colors on a whiteboard followed by these actions next to them. Below is an example.

Red – Who’s your favorite singer/actor?

Orange – Tell us something you learned last month.

Yellow – What do you think you are really good at, like a pro?

Blue – What is the one thing that you fondly remember from yesterday?

Brown – Tell us a special memory from your childhood.

Green – What is that one thing (not a person) that you can’t live without?

Have the students choose a chit and answer the question corresponding to the color that’s written on the chit.

Classroom activity #3 – The Bookmark Game

This is a great icebreaker activity perfect for the start of a new academic year. You will need to prepare well in advance for this classroom activity before the session begins. Make simple yet colorful bookmarks for the whole class and write the name of a student on each bookmark. Along with the names, write a question that will help you to get to know them better, examples being “name your favorite hangout”, “name your best friend”, “name a food you love to eat”, “what do you love to do when you’re not playing”, etc. Place the bookmarks question side down on a tray and pass the tray along the class for each student to choose a bookmark. Have the students read out the name on his/her bookmark and address the question along with it to the name he/she just got.

Classroom activity #4 – The Friendship Band Activity

Have each student braid a friendship band and tuck in a small piece of paper with his/her name in one of the layers of the band. Distribute the friendship bands among the whole class. If A got the band made by C and D got the band made by A, A will tie the band around C’s wrist and D will tie the band around A’s wrist.

Classroom activity #5 – Truth vs Lie

Each student says aloud three statements about herself/himself to the entire class. Of the 3 statements, 2 are true and 1 is a lie. Any one student from the class will raise his/her hand and volunteer to guess which of the three statements the lie is. This game is a great way for the kids to find out how well they know their friends!

Classroom activities can be a great way to build camaraderie and promote friendship in the class. Feel free to tweak and modify the classroom activities I’ve listed to suit the grade you teach.