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July 30, 2011

A Taste of Maths

A Taste of Maths is a project connecting Mathematics, culture and gastronomy developed by 6 schools in the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Romania and Spain. The title also suggests that one of the aims of the project is to develop our students' apetite for Mathematics and help them share the taste and the flavour of their cultures by using Maths as a vehicle for communication and mutual understanding.
The main goal of the project is to increase students’ motivation and interest for Mathematics, to promote investigation and curiosity by combining common mathematical contents of the curriculum with aspects of day-to-day life in different parts of Europe, using concrete objects such as kitchen items or food as well as representations of mathematical concepts. It is also intended to facilitate mutual understanding through getting knowledge on the historical and cultural contexts partners live in. The main tool of the project is a blog all the partners contributed to.

Pedagogical objectives:

• Connecting mathematical content in the curriculum and common aspects of day-to-day life, especially related to nutrition and cuisine.
• Developing students' ability to abstract thinking, to transfer mathematical knowledge to everyday life and vice-versa.
• Developing competencies among students: mathematical, artistic, digital competencies as well as learning to learn competence.
• Knowing and understanding our partners’ cultural and historical background by studying the local customs and traditions.
• Getting aware of the similarities and differences between us, developing tolerance and cooperation.
• Facilitating communication in a foreign language.
• Using English as a platform to access and construct knowledge related to different subjects and situations as well as a collaboration tool to communicate information, ideas, and feelings.
• Improving results in the class and increasing motivation, interest and effort among the participant students.
• Promoting team work and developing multiple intelligences.
• Using ICT as a strategy for searching information, solving tasks, sharing and disseminating results and as a communication tool for both teachers and students.
• Providing both students and teachers with diversified techniques in order to promote critical spirit.

Some examples of activities:

•Cultural Flavours: presentations of gastronomy, tales, music and traditions related to Maths.
•Fibonacci Book: creating poems with the Fibonacci Series structure and “bread” as a common topic. (On-line collaborative writing)
•Spicy Maths Riddles: creating Maths problems concerning nutrition and presenting them in a nice way for other teams to solve in turn.
•Pi(e) Day: thinking and elaborating activities to be presented for the International Pi Day: glogsters, art exhibitions, videos, pies and cakes.
•Flashmeeting: communication sessions on line to introduce participants and schools, to celebrate Pi Day and to end the project.
•A Piece of Pie in....: solving a Maths problem to compare prices in each town
•Maths is around us: presentations to show how Maths can be found in every-day life: nature, monuments, and streets.
•The Breadcrumbs Trail: evaluation activities with on-line surveys, analyses of results. Dipity timeline.

Undoubtedly, the most creative and the most attractive task for our students was the Fibonacci book. Partners created a collaborative book of Fibonacci poems: poems where the number of words in each line is according to Fibonacci’s sequence. The poems are bilingual: English and our mother tongue. The poems have a common theme: bread, as a way of learning about our culture and our past, and better mutually understanding each other.
The book was created using Mixbook, a tool that allows to share the online book, so each partner published their team’s creations. When the book was ready, it was published on the project’s blog at http://atasteofmaths.blogspot.com/2011/03/our-book.html
Then, the Dutch school offered us all a big surprise: they published the book and sent a copy to each school. It was a great gift and our students were very happy to see the real product.

The project is over now, but the biggest proof it was a successful one were the students’ opinions and feelings. Here is the Voicethread with their evaluation of the project.

Irina Vasilescu, School no. 195, Bucharest, Romania