When St. Marys native Katlin Ralph arrived last fall at Western University’s Faculty of Education — advancing her goal of becoming a teacher, after completing her undergraduate degree — she discovered a lot of her classmates dreaded the idea of teaching math.
“But I was really interested in Math,” she told the Journal Argus earlier this week. “And I wanted to find out about how to make math more interesting for kids.”
That led her to one of the faculty’s Associate Professors, George Gadanidis, who has been studying exactly that concept for a number of years. Eventually, she took a research assistant position with Gadanidis, whose work has involved the creation of a program called “Random Acts of Math.”
“It’s a literature-based program,” Ralph explained. “It’s bringing high-level math to a basic level . . . using the students’ emotional connection to stories that they know” such as Rapunzel or other well-known tales.
Fittingly, given the literary connection, Ralph has been presenting the program to students from Grades 1-6 every Saturday in April at the St. Marys Public Library. (A few years ago, as a summer job, Ralph ran the library’s kids’ reading program.) There are two more weeks: April 20 and 27. Partici-pants can drop in any time between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
They’ll receive riddles to solve, a booklet, a foam globe, and an opportunity to continue the fun at home. And they can even complete home-based problems, place them in a pre-stamped envelope addressed to Gadanidis, and he’ll send them new problems to solve once he receives the solutions.