The Mathematics Enthusiast






If anything, it was a few years of teaching grade eight home economics classes that made the situation very clear to me. There were the spectacular cooking disasters, like the group that while making a chocolate cake from scratch somehow switched the measurements for the salt and the sugar. Not only did they end up with a product that even a growing grade eight boy wouldn’t eat, but the cake actually erupted in the oven while it was baking. But there were also the smaller, more telling moments. I’d see a group from across the room that had come to a standstill. I’d approach and discover that kids who had been acing their math tests all year long found themselves unable to agree on the result of halving 1¾ cups of flour and were now all staring at their measuring cups in silence. Put a fraction calculation out of context on a piece of paper, these students were golden; faced with actual ingredients and tools under the flickering fluorescent lights of our home economics lab, they were flummoxed. While the Great Cake Explosion was a once-in-acareer lowlight (although it’s a good story, I ended up being the one who had to clean that oven), unfortunately, the measuring cup situation happened at least once each term, where it was apparent the students had little feel for the math they were doing back in math class.

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University of Montana, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library