Wednesday, December 22, 2010 standards based math education!

An excerpt from the Washington Post:

Montgomery schools to cut back on early acceleration in math courses

Last month, Maryland's largest school system announced that it would curtail significantly its practice of pushing large numbers of elementary and middle school students to skip grade levels in math. The shift responded. to parents, who questioned the payoff of acceleration, and teachers, who said students in even t

Math education experts say schools too often zoom through as many topics as possible, instead of lingering in depth on the basics. Advocates of the new standards adopted by the District, Maryland and most other states - but not Virginia - say they will streamline math topics and make education more consistent.

So what are the "new standards" of Math Education?  Check out the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

The mission of NCTM is to be a public voice of mathematics education supporting teachers to ensure equitable mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students through vision, leadership, professional development and research.
image from NCTM.ORG

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Deal! - $15 Dollars Off

image courtesy of google images
For all of you deal shoppers, looking for a GREAT gift for the kids in your life, take $ 15 off each kit you purchase by entering the code PROMO10 when you check out.

Here are some math idea for you to use with your kids when you are out shoping this weekend:
  • Ask your kids caluculate the change you should recieve when paying
  • Ask your kids to estimate what the total will be for your purchase
  • Calculate the % off into  real dollars, determine what the final cost will be
  • Ask your kids to calcualte what the sales tax on an item will be, the ask what will the total cost of the item + tax be.

Happy Thanksgiving! We are so grateful for our customers, friends and fans!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” 

- Melodie Beatty

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Thanksgiving for TEACHERS!!! You are so good to us, let us return the favor!

Did you know a teacher spends, on average, $1000 of his or her own money on supplies to be used in their classrooms to support their student's learning? is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to
help students in need. grew out of a Bronx high school where teachers experienced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in our public schools.

Charles Best, then a social studies teacher, sensed that many people would like to help distressed public schools, but were frustrated by a lack of influence over their donations. He created in 2000 so that individuals could connect directly with classrooms in need.

  • Our mission is to improve public education by empowering every teacher to be a change-maker and enabling any citizen to be a philanthropist.
  • Our vision is a nation where students in every community have the resources they need to learn

At, you can give as little as $1 and get the same level of choice, transparency, and feedback that is traditionally reserved for someone who gives millions. Check it out and make a teacher's dream for her students a reality!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Forgot....

image courtesy of google images

If you haven’t seen the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve before then you really must look at it now! 

It doesn’t tell parents or teachers anything new or surprising, but does answer the question we all ask ourselves “why can’t the kids remember what they learned last week, where their shoes are, what thier zip code is, etc?”

Research tells us that revisiting concepts is the key to long-term memory rentention. 

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

The speed of forgetting depends on a number of factors such as the difficulty of the learned material (e.g. how meaningful it is), its representation and physiological factors such as stress and sleep. The difference in performance (e.g. at school) can be explained by mnemonic representation skills.

Basic training in mnemonic techniques can help overcome those differences in part. 

Each repetition in learning increases the optimum interval before the next repetition is needed (for near-perfect retention, initially repetitions may need to be made within days, but later they can be made after years).

So I repeat: Repeat, repeat and repeat again!  Eventually it WILL Stick!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Teachers who made a difference-THANK YOU TEACHERS!

These are stories about passionate teachers who awakened a spark in their students.  What an incredible gift to give a young person!

Here is a link to the October npr story about Marin Alsop and the teachers who made a difference in her life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The beautiful math of coral

Margaret Wertheim leads a project to re-create the creatures of the coral reefs using a crochet technique invented by a mathematician -- celebrating the amazements of the reef, and deep-diving into the hyperbolic geometry underlying coral creation.

Link to TED video

Parents!! Come One, Come All!

Tonight we kicked off a series of parent meetings in Bristol, PA!!  

photo courtesy of

We meet with the parents of 2nd and 3rd grade children.  We discussed how they can encourage mathematical thinking in everyday life, how to develop good number sense, how to analyze data, and how to use the manipulatives with the MathShapes:go figure program.  Our goal is to deepen mathematical understanding for the parents and their children.  

Stay Tuesday we do the same for parents of grades 4 and 5 students.  

And... the following Tuesday we work with 1st grade parents to help them shape the math experience for their pre-school and firrst grade children and how to begin to work with math concepts.

We hope all you parents who attended felt as though the session was helpful!  You were a fantastic audience and asked GREAT QUESTIONS.

Please spread the word about MathShapes: Go Figure!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Math is like baseball, but there is no need to fear the beard!!

image courtesy of

Tonight the Rangers play the Giants at 7:30 PM EST--Who will you be cheering for?

I am reminded of the the very first post we did here at Go Figure last year:

Math Is Like Baseball!

If you want to hit a home run in education you have to round first base(student), second base(parent) and , third base (teacher). If you do not touch every base, you are the same as a stranded runner - you don't score.
Some math ideas to think about as you watch the game tonight:

A Problem:

Johnny plays shortstop for the Giants in the 11-12 year old division. Midway through the 20 game season, he is batting .333 in 30 at-bats. Johnny thinks he can make the All-Star team if he ends the season hitting .400 or better. How many hits does Johnny need in the remaining 10 games to make All-Stars assuming he gets 3 at-bats per game? What will his average be over the last 10 games of the season?

A few cool sites:
Baseball Statistics - Here's a lesson for middle schoolers from the NCTM Illuminations site that will familiarize students with both baseball and statistics. Teachers may want to add their own creative touches to this one

San Franciso Baseball & Math - Grades 4-8 - This site asks users to solve math problems by scouring the San Francisco Giants' web site for prices, statistics, and other information. A good baseball web quest and math lesson.

Baseball Word Scramble - A simple word scramble that you can print

Friday, October 29, 2010

Boo! Happy Halloween!

15 Years of Pumpkin Ideas
photo courtesy

Here are some Math Ideas for you while you are celebrating this weekend!

  • Arrange the pumpkins by weight, by height, by color (lightest to darkest)
  • Estimate how much every pumpkin weighs
    • Ask your child how much they weigh as a frame of reference, then ask them to estimate how much the pumpkin weighs
  • Weigh each pumpkin (have your child weigh themselves first, then weigh themselves holding the pumpkin and subtract to get the pumpkin's weight)  Ask how close their estimate was to the measurement. 
  • Measure the circumference of every pumpkin and after that the height and width of every one.
  • Have your kids sort the candy in various ways, size, type, brand, etc.  Then ask them to create ratios.
    • ex. Chocolate Candy : Non-Chocolate Candy, or Boxes of Candy : Bags of Candy
Please send us your pictures of your best Halloween costumes for us to post next week! Email to:
1645 - Calculator Costume Mascot Image

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Today is Walk to School Day!

Get on your walking shoes!  Today is Walk to School Day! 

Photo Courtesy of
Even if the bus or carpool has already left, give it a shot, take your kids out for a walk today!

According to the Walk to School Website:
It began as an idea...In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago, modeled after the United Kingdom’s lead. Back then, it was simply a day to bring community leaders and children together to create awareness of the need for communities to be walkable.

It evolved into a movement...By the year 2002, children, parents, teachers and community leaders in all 50 states joined nearly 3 million walkers around the world to celebrate the second annual International Walk to School Day. The reasons for walking grew just as quickly as the event itself.

Whether your concern is safer and improved streets, healthier habits, or cleaner air, Walk to School Day events are aimed at bringing forth permanent change to encourage a more walkable America — one community at a time.
Here's a math idea to incorporate on your walk today:

1. Keep logs of walking time or steps
2. Calculate speeds and distances
3. Compare individual and group averages, trends and statistical analyses (do boys or girls walk more?)
4. Create ratios by counting how many things you can see! (how many red cars are there v blue cars?) (how many buses v motorcycles?) (how many dogs v. squirrels?)

Remember....Those boots were made for walkin'!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Today, on World Teacher's Day, we want to thank and honor the teachers whose hard work and thoughtful leadership inform and inspire the next generation.  

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other" -JFK

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Timely Issues-Look Kids, Big Ben!

Did you know...the end of the minute hand on London's Big Ben travels about 118 miles (190km) in a year?

Photo Courtesy of

Monday, September 20, 2010

Timely Issues-Can you wait a second, please?

Did you know there are 31,556,926 seconds in a year?

That's a lot of time to spend waiting around!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Art of Your Question...who, what, when, where, why, how..?

"In mathematics, the art of asking questions is more valuable than solving problems." -Georg Cantor

Remember when your children first learned the word "why"? Remember how they would ask questions like:

"Why is the sky blue?"

"Why does my finger bend?"

"Why do i have to go to bed now?"

These are make-you-think questions! Trying to answer these questions can lead to interesting conversations, but can also be frustrating and lead to "Because I said so", or "Because it just is" answers.

Questions are powerful and can evoke a myriad of emotions, a plethora of information and a deeper understanding when posed to the right way.

Parents and teachers-we invite you to start asking "Why?"

Good, make-them-think questions can be used effectively by parents to reinforce the understanding of concepts learned in school, but provoking learning not to ascertain what has already been learned.

Ask your child to:

explain the reasoning behind the solution of a problem,
explain the strategy used to solve a problem,
justify answers and/or choices,
explain what the answer means in a particular context,
predict what will happen next,
recognize and understand questions stated in a novel form, or
state a question or invent a problem for which the answer is given.

Asking questions that lead students to understand must start with their current understanding and provoke them to think forward. These are valuable instructional tools that textbooks are not designed to provide. You can ask questions while you are in the car, cooking dinner, walking to the park, and while helping with homework.

Ask away and watch your children become mathematical thinkers!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Today's Date...9 02 10...nine-oh-two-one-oh!

What do you think of when you hear nine oh two one oh?  I know what I think of dear old pals..Donna, Dylan, Brenda, Brandon, David, Andrea, Kelly, and of course Steve Sanders.  The original charaters in Beverly Hills 90210! 

Was 90210 just a zip code, a dreamy lifestyle, a place where the Peach Pit/After Dark rocked and Donna Martin barely made it to graduation day...??  Nope, it's also today's date!! 

Just goes to show you that numbers can mean a lot of different things. These guys and gals probably loved math too, like Steve Sanders; the license plate of his Corvette: I8A4RE!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mary J Blige's got a REAL LOVE for Math!

She's a nine-time Grammy award winning artist, an actress and all-around super star but Mary J. Blige is taking on a new cause–Educating young girls and getting them interested in science, engineering and math!

The R&B star has paired up with NASA and is showing young girls that not even the sky is the limits. She hopes to encourage young women to pursue exciting experiences and career choices through studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics. NASA's Summer of Innovation project and Blige's Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now have a lot in common. Both show students the many possibilities available if they follow their dreams and reach for the stars

What is the Summer of Innovation?   NASA's Summer of Innovation project is a multi-faceted, intensive middle school science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, project with a pilot conducted during the summer 2010. Summer of Innovation is designed to improve STEM teaching and learning in partnership with federal agencies, academic and informal organizations, nonprofits, and industry.

Mary J Blige"s Public Service Announcement

Friday, August 27, 2010

Math can help build a....Bridge over troubled waters....!!

Did you know Art Garfunkle has a masters in math?? He holds an MA in mathematics from Columbia. He started on his PhD, but quit in order to pursue a career in music

Many famous people studied mathematics at one point in their lives before going on to do other things for which they are more famous. It just goes to show that math is a great skill to have and use in life.
Listen to his classic tune Bridge Over Troubled Waters here

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Big Fat Zero!

Did you know the number zero was invented independently in India and by the Maya?

In India a decimal system was used, like ours, but they used an empty space for zero up to 3rd Century BC. This was confusing for an empty space was also used to separate numbers, and so they invented the dot for a zero. The first evidence for the use of the symbol that we now know as zero stems from the 7th century AD. The Maya invented the number zero for their calendars in the 3rd century AD. The number zero reached European civilisation through the Arabs after 800 AD. The Greek and Roman did not need the number zero for they did their calculations on an abacus.

Thanks to the folks at for posting this fact on their site!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ever think about the Design and Geometry of your Pasta???

Check out this book from Caz Hilderbrand & Jacob Kennedy;                                                  The Geometry of Pasta
Buy it on Amazon here

There are said to be over 300 shapes of pasta, each of which has a history, a story to tell, and an affinity with particular foods. These shapes have evolved alongside the flavours of local ingredients, and the perfect combination can turn an ordinary dish into something sublime. "The Geometry of Pasta" pairs over 100 authentic recipes from critically acclaimed chef, Jacob Kenedy, with award-winning designer Caz Hildebrand's stunning black-and-white designs to reveal the science, history and philosophy behind spectacular pasta dishes from all over Italy. A striking fusion of design and food, "The Geometry of Pasta" tells you everything you need to know about cooking and eating pasta like an Italian.

About the Author Designer and publisher CAZ HILDEBRAND is well known as the designer of sumptuous bestselling cookbooks by Nigella Lawson and Moro. JACOB KENEDY is the co-owner of Bocca di Lupo, recently voted London's best restaurant by both Time Out and the Evening Standard.

Overview and About the Aurthor from

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Math Shapes: Go Figure!: Creativity and Imagination are essential to Learning AND ESPICIALLY Math

Math Shapes: Go Figure!: Creativity and Imagination are essential to Learning AND ESPICIALLY Math

Creativity and Imagination are essential to Learning AND ESPICIALLY Math

We are so inspired by this blog post by Scott Noppe Brandon.  The post in its entirety is below, but i am especially struck by Shelly Carson's quote

“[t]he essence of creativity is the ability to combine disparate bits of information in novel and original ways to form new ideas"

Math is a beautiful lens to view the world through, some of the most gifted artists, saw the world mathematically.  Musicians, photographers, painters, architects, writers, poets, incorporate elements of math into the creation of their art.  They use light ratios in photography, scales and cords and measured beats for rhythm in music and poetry and measure and metrics are essential for painters and architects.

We must help our children be able to piece together information and knowledge so they can become the innovators of tomorrow.  Mathshapes Go Figure helps children to SEE and THINK math in all sorts of situations....!

 You Say “Creativity,” I Say “Imagination,” Let’s Not Call the Whole Thing Off

Posted on July 27, 2010 by Scott Noppe-Brandon

In a July 20 piece for The Huffington Post called “Creativity in the 21st Century,” Harvard research psychologist Shelley Carson writes about the urgent need for creativity in the globalized, technological, rapidly changing world of the 21st century. The starting point of her discussion is one of the conclusions reached at the recent G-20 summit in Toronto: “in order to attract investors, nations need to provide ‘an environment that promotes creativity.’” She goes on to talk about the role of creativity in different areas of life, some of which are particularly interesting to me because Eric Liu and I don’t deal with them in our book, Imagination First. These areas include the search for a job during an economic downturn, the quest for a mate in a new social landscape epitomized by Facebook, a parent’s task of instilling values in increasingly media-saturated children, and the modern struggle to manage one’s time and maintain one’s sense of balance. Carson asserts that creative thinking is crucial to success in each of these cases.

Reading the Carson’s arguments, I couldn’t help but think that these scenarios are inextricably bound up with imagination as well as with creativity. The two terms are, after all, often used interchangeably in contemporary discourse. Carson concludes with a “creative tip” for all of us: read about a variety of topics and increase your interests, because “[t]he essence of creativity is the ability to combine disparate bits of information in novel and original ways to form new ideas.” This is the very thinking behind the seventh imaginative practice in Imagination First, “Hoard Bits.” Whether we choose to think in terms of “imagination” or in terms of “creativity,” we must remember that what’s really at stake here is a way of life characterized by courageous openness to possibility.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are We There Yet?? Making time in the car fun!!

How long is the drive to your favorite vacation spot? How many times do you say “settle down back there?” If you have a good distance to go, take advantage of the time to discover the use of numbers along the way:

  • Look for different route signs in a 10-minute time span. Whoever spies the largest wins the game. If your children are older, you can have them add or multiply the digits on the route signs.
  • Count to 20 by finding the numbers 1 to 20 on various signs. You can always extend the activity by increasing the number.
  • Count specific things: green cars, mini-vans, etc. There are hundreds of things to count.
These are just a few things you can try to keep the children engaged on a long car ride.  Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Numbers Numbers, Everywhere!

Fun Fact of the Day: Today, just after 5 o'clock, it will be 05:06:07 08/09/10. This won't happen again until 3010! Our thanks to National Lab Day for Tweeting this!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Winnie from the Wonder years knows that "Math Does Not Suck"!

Winnie from the The Wonder Years, otherwise known as Danica McKeller, loves math like we do!

She has published three books about math geared towards middle school girls. Her first book, Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, then Kiss My Math:Showing Pre-Algerbra Who's Boss, and now her latest book, Hot X: Algebra Exposed. She presents math lessons in the style of a teen magazine.

A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA with a degree in Mathematics, she is a qualified expert in mathematics. Danica has been honored in Britain's esteemed Journal of Physics and the New York Times for her work in mathematics.

Check out her website
As Winnie Cooper ...

...And today

She is passionate about girls succeeding in math, and being confient about being smart.  We love that!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Can I get your digits? Where these numbers came from...

Do you know why numbers look like they do? Someone, at some point in time, had to create their shapes and meaning. Watch this short presentation and then you will know how our Arabic numbers were originally created a very long time ago and what logic the people that created them used to determine their shapes. It is really very simple and quite creative.

Click Here to see a video about how the numbers we use today came about!

You have to admire the intelligence of a person or people that created something so simple and perfect that it has lasted for thousands and thousands of years and will probably never change.

When the presentation gets to the number "seven" you will notice that the 7 has a line through the middle of it. That was the way the Arabic 7 was originally written, and in Europe and certain other areas they still write the 7 that way. Also, in the military, they commonly write it that way. The nine has a kind of curly tail on it that has been reduced, for the most part nowadays, to a simple curve, but the logic involved still applies.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hello World!

We love Math!  How uncool is that? 

The population of math lovers is plummeting and our mission is to grow it! 

As adults, we think we have forgotten the math we learned long ago in school. We think we use computers and calculators so we "don't use math anymore" and therefore cannot help our kids learn math.  This is simply untrue.  

This blog intends to inspire you to help our students become the creative, problem solving, critical thinkers they need to be in today's world.  We intend to inspire you with thoughts and ideas about mathematics, learning, education and the world we live in.

A year ago we began selling MathShapes: Go Figure! , our smart and unique, at-home math enrichment program. Go Figure! gives parents everything they need to help their children at home with the math they are learning in school. Each grade level kit provides a year’s worth of material empowering parents and children to see, think, visualize and touch math in their everyday lives! This multi-faceted approach to learning provides an understanding of math concepts far beyond traditional computation exercises. When students are given the opportunity to “think mathematically” a whole new world opens, and success in math is inevitable!

The program was developed by Ellen Mulligan and Tracey Knerr, passionate and professional educators in the field of mathematics. Every day we balance our checkbooks, cook, buy fuel efficient cars, and use a myriad of technologies that require us to “think mathematically.” Our children will need to be able to do the same. We have witnessed the transformational effects of engaged and empowered parents in the process of learning math. Parents who use Go Figure! share that the program eliminated the need for math tutoring, easily translated their children’s curriculum into the concepts they remembered learning in school and resulted in better math grades.

Please check us out online at