It is far too rare for people to look at something—a building, a painting, an airplane—and really contemplate the mathematics that it took to make that object a reality. Mathematics? Really? Yes, mathematics. My sixth grade math students are no exception to this. More often than I would like, they think that their use for mathematics ends when they exit my classroom. I want to change their beliefs about the beauty, usefulness, and ubiquity of mathematics. I want them to begin to see mathematics in unexpected places, and I want them to ask questions about mathematics when answers cannot be found in their textbooks.
In order to change the culture of my classroom, the presuppositions of my students, and the testing focus of present-day math education, I will travel to Spain and Portugal to embark on a study tour of many overlooked and under-studied mathematical wonders. I will study, journal about, and document my findings while searching for greater connections to my own mathematics. In addition, I will find ways to meaningfully incorporate these buildings, inventions, and works of art into my classroom, teaching, and school on an ongoing basis.
As a life-long mathematics student, I know that mathematics can sometimes feel like repetition of facts. This trip will allow me to experience mathematics in new and tangible ways. I will be able to touch the tilings in the Alhambra, to study the architecture of the Sagrada Familia, and to learn about ancient navigational tools and techniques. With Fund for Teachers, I can combine my academic interests in mathematics, its history, and its influence, with real-life, hands-on experiences. This fellowship will open my eyes, help me make deeper connections about the interconnectedness of mathematics and other disciplines, and improve my teaching by giving me new tools to inspire inquisitiveness in my own students.
- MacKenzie Rossi (P.S. 008 Robert Fulton, Brooklyn, & Math for America Fellow) designed her Fund for Teachers fellowship to investigate the Portuguese and Spanish use of geometry in art, architecture and nautical navigation to infuse math lessons with relevant artifacts and motivate students to develop a broader mathematical perspective of the world around them. She’s posting photographs of her findings on Instagram.