Sunday, June 02, 2002

Experience Mathematics # 1 -- Mathematical activities

Introduction

Children learn by doing. By doing these activities, they will experience interesting mathematical ideas. They will also gain experience in thinking mathematically. This will help them understand concepts easily, and better their performance in exams.
It is also very important to remember that the encouragement of parents and grandparents motivates a child a lot. Praise them when they show their intelligence by doing mathematical activities successfully. This will make the children work hard to become better at mathematics.
Why do children find mathematics difficult? The most important reason is that they find mathematics removed from their daily existence. However, it is not too difficult to give mathematical experiences to children. In this column, we will give an activity for children. It is a good idea for parents to help the child with the activity, if the child is studying in class I-V. For older children, show them this column and challenge them to explain the answers of the questions below.
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This activity requires 20 round pegs. The round pieces of a Carrom Board set will do nicely. You may also use 20 buttons of the same size. 

Pick a number—say 15. Take 15 pegs and make as many rectangles as you can out of them. Each time you are able to make a rectangle, reproduce the rectangle in a drawing book and note the dimensions. (You can use dots to make rectangular arrays.) For example, using 15 pegs, you can draw the following rectangles. 




Repeat this activity for each number from 1 to 20. Now try to answer the following questions:
  1. When you rotate a rectangle by 90 degrees, you get another rectangle with the same number of dots. What is this law called? 
  2. List the numbers that give rise to only 2 rectangles? 
  3. Which number (or numbers) lead to the largest number of rectangles? 
  4. What are the dimensions of all the rectangles with one side consisting of 2 dots? 
  5. What are the dimensions of all the rectangles with one side consisting of 3 dots? 
It is not necessary that you will be able to answer all the questions. But it is important to try hard. In the next column, we will give explanations of the mathematics underlying this activity.

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