MathQuests seek to engage students in tiered layers of math comprehension that will give them a deep comprehension of the skills and concepts they are learning. The mission of MathQuests is for students to learn by doing. Critical thinking, problem solving, and strategizing are all part of a MathQuest exercise.
Educators who use MathQuest activities have found their students reach higher levels of comprehension as based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of learning used in the educational system that shows the different levels of understanding students go through as they learn more about a topic or skill. The levels, from top to bottom, include:
• Understand – be able to explain or describe
• Knowledge – to remember
The goal of a MathQuest is to get students above the knowledge level. Many students only reach this level in their math studies because of rote teaching methods that do not facilitate higher level thinking.
Many students find math to be boring and irrelevant. Most educators hear the proverbial “Why do I need to know this I’m never going to use it.” MathQuests can help shift the student’s thinking towards math as they participate in a MathQuest that involves real life scenarios in a non-classroom setting.
MathQuests also encourage group and individual learning. Not only do students engage in a rich learning activity that encourages critical thinking, but they do it in different learning environments that require skills such as cooperation, teamwork, leadership, and independence.
Studies, such as the one conducted by SRI International, found that students who engaged in interactive math activities tested higher than students who did not engage in interactive math learning. Proponents for MathQuests say the material is far more engaging and is better suited to meet the individual needs of the student.
Grades 3-6 MathQuests:
Students learn math skills by role playing buyers and sellers in a math city set up in the classroom. Students set up and design their math store as well as price inventory and set the pricing structure and discounts. Students keep track of cash flow, income, and inventory. They also engage in buying activities with cash, checks, and debit cards. Students learn money management skills, decision making, team work, accounting, and fiscal responsibility.
This MathQuest activity explores the topic of plane geometry while students design mazes. Student teams are asked to design mazes for the entrances to a geometry themed amusement park called Geo World. Students must build mazes that fit the requirements of Geo World’s theme park. Students learn about angles, perimeter, shapes, and spatial relationships. Students also track their experience in journals and present their findings to the rest of the class.
This activity has students working as individuals, in pairs and as an entire class. Students take a simulated trip into the sea on board a submarine while learning introductory algebraic concepts. The unit culminates with students building an underwater sea station based upon the new skills they have acquired. Students learn about variables, patterns, functions, diagrams, tables, and graphs. This activity can be used for up to 15 class periods.
This MathQuest activity seeks to give students an in-depth understanding of fractions. Students work in groups of three and experiment fraction concepts. Teams then participate in fraction challenges against other teams. Events such as marble rolling, racetrack, and a slow marble race teach underlying fractional concepts in a very fun and exciting manner. Fractions have never been this fun before as students become completely engaged in a multisensory learning environment where they learn through doing.
Great Equation Race
This math program combines teamwork, problem solving, and algebra in a fun activity. Students solve equations and earn mileage as they race across the globe to win a race. Students track their progress and compete in math races while navigating to different checkpoints as they push towards the finish line.
Tick Tock Time Zones
This game is a highly interactive unit that teaches students to tell time. Students can be divided into pairs or work as individuals. Students travel through four different time zones with their travel companion Stop the Watch Dog. Each of the zone teaches about the history of telling time such as military time, meridians, daylight savings, time zones, and solstices.
This activity has students traveling through ancient Greek buildings to solve math formulas that are clues to a secret formula. The first step is for them to design their own logos and flags and come up with a team name. Students must solve puzzles using addition, subtraction, measurement, and logic. Students can earn Greek currency based upon problem difficulty and teamwork. On their journey they learn about the history of math, great Greek mathematicians, currency, and mythological figures.
This game teaches learners basic counting skills and how to properly make change using a combination of coins. The students are divided into pairs. The teacher draws a card and students are asked to create that number using a variety of coins. Students make wall charts to track their progress and to keep score.
All of the MathQuest activities above are samples that display the MathQuest criteria of being:
• Promoting higher levels of learning based on Bloom’s Taxonomy
• Learning by doing
• Multisensory engagement
MathQuests are a great way for your student to learn to appreciate math and understand its value in every day society. They also help students who are afraid of math to learn to overcome the fear as well as making sure that students who are not afraid of math remain confident.
MathQuests can be created by anyone and used at all levels of education. Students who engage in this type of math learning environment consistently perform better than their peers on standardized tests.