‘School House Mania’ spotlights mathematics

By Susan Troutman and Carolyn White

Rice’s Tudor Fieldhouse was bustling with activity as 4,100 energetic students from Aldine, Alief, Cy-Fair, Fort Bend, Houston, Katy and Spring Branch independent school districts learned about mathematics and science and attended a men’s basketball game Dec. 15. The fourth annual “School House Mania” event was sponsored by the Rice Athletics Department.

basketball_math-4-640The Owls didn’t disappoint the kids. The team beat St. Edward’s University 93-64. Egor Koulechov led the Owls with a game-high 20 points, his third straight 20-point game.

Prior to the game, the students participated in educational activities presented by the Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP).

RUSMP welcomed the students with a slideshow that spotlighted the mathematics that can be found on the Rice campus. Students then participated in Sammy Says, a version of the game Simon Says, in which students were supposed to follow directions given only by Sammy, the mascot of the Rice Owls. In this game, students demonstrated their knowledge of computation and geometric terms by physically modeling the answers. As the basketball teams practiced on the court, the students were given mathematical clues to determine the jersey numbers for the starters of the Rice Owls men’s basketball team. The students’ teachers, as well as the basketball players, were elated when the students yelled the correct jersey numbers.

The mathematical activities continued as RUSMP used real-world objects to describe translations, reflections and rotations. After a brief review of these transformations, the stands were rocking as the students and teachers danced to the “Transformation Shuffle.” After actively applying their knowledge of transformations, students were led on a tour of Houston through a slideshow in which they answered questions related to science and mathematics.

RUSMP concluded its presentation by having students estimate the time it would take to complete “The Wave” in Tudor Fieldhouse. The high-spirited students were exuberant as the wave traveled around the fieldhouse and all sections of students briefly stood, yelled and raised their arms in nine seconds. The mathematics theme was continued during breaks in the game when students were challenged to answer trivia questions related to real-world situations.

RUSMP has been promoting Rice University’s excellence beyond the hedges in pre-K through 12th-grade education by providing support to precollege institutions across the state since 1987. It continues to be the primary catalyst of sustained, progressive change in education in Houston-area schools and across Texas with its numerous programs for leaders, teachers and students and through its support to schools and school districts. RUSMP collaborated with the Athletics Department on “School House Mania,” which provides educational opportunities for Houston-area students.

–Susan Troutman is RUSMP director of secondary programs; Carolyn White is RUSMP director of elementary programs.

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