A Lovely "Mathternoon"

Last week, Chapin’s Assembly Room buzzed with energy and excitement as the Middle School celebrated its first ever Mathternoon – an afternoon of mathematical fun and discovery! Over 60 students participated in this optional after-school event, creatively organized by their math teachers and demonstrating the powerful love of learning (and of math) these teachers cultivate in their classrooms each day.

“Will we save the Gator?!” math teacher Jonathan Shiller wondered aloud as the students filed into the room. A Chapin-made movie trailer had announced Mathternoon in an earlier Middle School Assembly and colorfully explained that the Gator had been trapped and could only be freed by the solving of math problems and puzzles. The curious students gathered in the Assembly Room this afternoon were there for one purpose… to use their mathematical skills to help the Gator escape.

The group ate a quick snack as their teachers explained the rules of the game and handed out score sheets. They were instructed to move around the room solving the puzzles of their choice, spending five to ten minutes at each station. “Persevere, but it’s okay to move along if you don’t finish one,” their teachers explained. “Work alone, in pairs, or in groups… you choose!”

When they won a game, students would receive a “gold coin” sticker on their score sheets. In order to “free the Gator” the group had to collectively earn 250 gold coins. “If you succeed, we might even see the Gator later!!” Mr. Shiller hinted. 

With that, the students quickly got to work, moving around from station to station set up around the Assembly Room. These stations each featured a unique math activity… from wooden puzzles and tangrams to complex equations and word problems. One table was covered in miniature trousers and shirts cut from construction paper and required students to calculate how many different outfit combinations could be made.

As the Math department planned this event, they made a point to ensure there was something mathematical for every student to enjoy. While some students liked spending time immersing themselves in one problem, others preferred moving around to as many stations as they could. “I think the variety of what we offered made it accessible to everyone,” math teacher Sarah Davies noted.

After racking up gold coins, students would bring their score sheets to Ms. Davies, who kept a tally throughout the event, ensuring an updated total projected on the screen. The room erupted in cheers as the number climbed closer and closer to the 250 coin goal.

“Where else can you go where it’s 5:00 after school and students are this excited about doing math?!” Head of Middle School Mary Rafferty exclaimed, watching the eager students work through each station. “Our goal was to remind the students that math exists outside of the classroom,” Mr. Shiller added.

After a whirlwind hour of problem solving, the group finally reached 250 coins, jumping for joy and joined by the now released Chapin Gator who danced happily on the Assembly Room stage. The loveable mascot eventually made its way down into the crowd where, at its beckoning, the students excitedly pulled off the head to reveal none other than their math teacher, Lauren Gallagher.

The joy and enthusiasm this event created, all centered around math, made Mathternoon an afternoon to be remembered and repeated!

Browse photos from the event below: