How summer programs make math fun
By Kurtis Donnelly, Young Audiences Program Director
This summer I went and observed one of our artists, Max Bent, working with students at Stadium School as a part of our partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools Summer Learning Academies. Max is truly a master of arts integration–combining his artistic knowledge and his understanding of the curriculum–having been a public school science teacher for eight years.
Max is primarily a beatboxer, but is talented in many different artistic disciplines. As I walked into his class, it was unlike any math class I had ever seen before. It was evident all around the room that there was a strong connection between math and art happening there. Here is a picture of a graph the students created (graphing was a math skill they focused on during the first week of the program) in which students graphed the pitch and beats of the song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”:
Across the room were data sets like the one seen below. As Max taught students the elements of beatboxing–Bass, HiHat and Clap–they also worked on proportions.
Students also were working on a new project that Max and his partner classroom teacher had created together. Max used his experience in visual art and design to create a project where students were designing their own beverages, all while continuing the class’ study of proportion, scale, volume, and fractions. Students were able to use elements of design to create the visual aspects of the drink, and, by plotting their bottle designs on graph paper, were able to study scale.
During the five weeks of Summer Academies, Young Audiences artists like Max co-taught arts-integrated lessons with Baltimore City teachers each morning, and provided an in-depth study of an art form as an enrichment activity each afternoon. The arts both incentivized students to attend school during the summer and helped combat summer learning loss for Baltimore City students who might not have the opportunities to stay active and engaged during summer vacation. Lessons like Max’s expanded students’ knowledge of music and sound but also made abstract math concepts relatable and fun.