Ashton Weber | December 24, 2019
Six children are in a classroom, their faces beaming and their laughter echoing through the surrounding halls. Some of them are jumping up and down. Another is excitedly reciting multiplication facts. The remaining few are seated, their pencils rapidly scratching lopsided numbers across fresh sheets of paper.
On most days, the Pasquerilla Center is full of Notre Dame’s ROTC members, hard at work. But, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, its classrooms become a math lover’s playground and these children, who have just completed their first “wiggle worm” puzzle, are its eager visitors.
They are participating in the Riverbend Math Circles at Notre Dame, brought to campus by Amanda Serenevy, Ph.D., executive director of the Riverbend Community Math Center. The center has maintained a years-long partnership with the University’s Department of Mathematics, which continued this fall when the center’s math circles were moved to campus with the assistance of Sonja Mapes-Szekelyhidi, associate professor of the practice and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Mathematics.
Serenevy uses her circles to fight what she has deemed “mathphobia,” a fear of math often formed by the cumulative nature of the subject. Many students who struggle with basic concepts accept the label “bad at math.” As math builds upon itself, these concepts never go away, and their fear is perpetuated by the rigidity of traditional mathematics instruction.
Read more here.