Many school students even today express displeasure to learn math viewing it as dull and boring and lacking in application. To them math means either to get something right or wrong. When they get it wrong they view it as a failure and lose interest while there are other students who learn enough tricks to get through or score high in a math exam.
As students progress from pre-kindergarten to high school they should become proficient in maths. This proficiency would enable them to cope with day to day math challenges and study mathematics beyond school. Unfortunately, this is not the case with many and a great many of them develop an aversion to it once they reach high school. Even many fumble at solving elementary problems.
Since schools are responsible to make students math confident, there is a great urgency on their part to create support programs designed to lead students to proficiency in math. These provide ample opportunities to the teacher to teach math in a different way say through activities and games. The goal of introducing these activities and games is to make math interesting and effective by providing a proper context for application.
The setting up of a math lab takes this matter head on. It is a place for students to discover mathematics by doing. Appealing activities for a wide range of students with varying proficiency are introduced with the goal of generating further interest. These in turn help students to visualize, manipulate and reason. They provide opportunity to make conjectures and generalize observed patterns. Although math is not an experimental subject like physics, chemistry or biology a mathematical laboratory immensely contributes to the learning of mathematical concepts and skills.
The role of a teacher in a math lab is not to teach, but to facilitate inquiry in mathematics. This could either be done by posing probing questions, offering an extra resource or asking to discuss with peers.
Here are some ways in which a math lab can help students learn mathematics:
- Context and opportunity to discover through doing. Through activities students learn to do through concrete activities thus laying down a firm foundation for more abstract thinking.
- Offers more scope for individual participation. It encourages students to become independent learners and allows them to learn at their own pace.
- It widens the experiential base and lays groundwork for later learning of new areas of mathematics and helps to make appropriate connections between the known and unknown in mathematics.
- Rules and constraints play an important role in mathematical problems. By fearlessly engaging with puzzles and games they have an opportunity to alter the rules and constraints. Thus becoming aware of the role of rules and constraints in mathematics.
- Math lab helps develop meta-cognitive abilities. As the student can rethink and rework the problem and solution several times without any interference from time constraints.
- It builds up inherent interest and confidence in the student towards learning and doing mathematics.
- Lastly it adds variety in all school mathematics learning
In line with the global trends in revamping the education system, the current Indian syllabus calls for activity based learning. Nischal’s is a pioneer in creating curriculum based, portable & micro-scale school labs which transforms a class into a lab. A well structured orientation program familiarizes the faculty about how best to use the labs to derive maximum benefit from them.