Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fun Math Costumes for Halloween

Halloween is almost here! Are you looking for some costume inspiration this year? Look no further — we've rounded up some of our favorite math-related costumes! 

Pumpkin Pi

It's the time of year when we add pumpkin to everything - why not 
dress up like a Pumpkin π?

(image via Shermane King)

Super Pi

Superheroes + π? Yes please! 
Don't forget your cape and headband for a truly epic Super Pi costume.

(image via

Snakes on a Plane

What a pun-tastic take on planes!

Haunted Homework

Our Mathnasium students are never afraid of math homework or tests, but you're sure to scare someone with this Haunted Homework costume from Costume Works

(image via


Who knew graphing calculators could be so cute?

(image via zombiecharlesdarwin)

Take your textbook along to show how you use your calculator in real life!

(image via Bayli Palmer)

Rubik's Cube

Love math puzzles? Dress up like one of our favorite brain-busters—the Rubik's cube! 

Design Nerd has instructions on a DIY Rubik's cube costume - check out their tutorial for tips on making your own cube costume.

(image via DesignNerd)

Möbius Strip

The Möbius strip is a surface with only one side, one boundary component and no fixed orientation. With some clever fabric manipulation, you can make your own Möbius costume. Head over to MY Studio to learn more about this Möbius dress!


Why not give a shout out to your favorite number by becoming it for Halloween?

(image via

Count von Count from Sesame Street

A true math celebrity, the Count always finds a way to bring any conversation back to counting. Make sure to brush up on your Count facts, such as his favorite number. (It's 34,969, by the way. According to the Count, "it's a square-root thing.")

(image via Frogstar)

The awesome folks at Mathnasium of West Knoxville love to celebrate Halloween with a "Halloweenie Roast," where they roast hot dogs and dress up in math-related costumes. Check out their amazingly clever pun-tastic costumes:

Doro-Theorem and Her Little Dog Total

Who better to explain complex math theorems than Doro-Theorem? 
Total is standing by to help!


Trigonometry and traffic signs — what a clever costume!


Need geometry concepts explained? This knight has you covered! 
He's also the star of a fun children's book series about math.


Infant-ity explains the concept of infinity so well, even a baby can understand it!

The Numberjack (with his X- and Y-axes)

The Numberjack is prepared to graph on the go with his X and Y axes strapped to his back!

Here's another look at the West Knoxville team in costume, including Sir-Cumference, Miss Calculation, the Verticle Lion, the Numberjack, A Ten Gent, and Doro-Theorem

(above images via Mathnasium of West Knoxville)

If YOU dress up in a fun math-related costume this Halloween, please share your photos with us. We'd love to see your math creativity in action! 

We're giving away a $30 Amazon gift card to the best math-related costume we see! One runner-up will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. To enter, either email your costume photo to, share it with us on Facebook, or Tweet it to @Mathnasium!
Deadline to enter: Monday, November 3rd. Winners will be selected and contacted by November 7th.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mathnasium's 4th Annual TriMathlon Recap

4th Annual Mathnasium TriMathlon

This past weekend at Mathnasium Learning Centers around the country, elementary school students showed off their math skills and won money for their local schools by competing in our 4th annual TriMathlon.

A free, fun-filled event for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students, the TriMathlon tests a mathlete’s mental fitness with three fun-filled math challenges: The Counting Game, a Magic Squares Challenge and a Mental Math Workout.

We had a wonderful event this year with more than 3,200 participants at 171 centers across the US and Canada. That's a LOT of TriMathletes showing off their math skills!  If you were able to come out to one of our events, we'd like to thank you for joining in our TriMathlon fun, and we hope you had a blast showcasing your math prowess and making new friends! 

Fun for Students!

At Mathnasium, it's always our goal to make math fun and accessible for students, and our TriMathlon offers participants a relaxing, engaging environment to challenge themselves and feel good about giving back to their local community.

From what we've heard from students, they had a great time! Wilson Fisher, a 5th grader who competed in the Johns Creek and South Forsyth TriMathlon said, "The TriMathlon was a great experience and it strained my brain. I look forward to it every year because I get to put my skills to the test...and it's in a fun way!" 

Phoebe Fisher, a 3rd grade participantchimed in, "I get to show what I know!" 

Aubrey Lee, a 5th grade TriMathlete
, was impressed with the challenges. "It is cool that it has three different sections and I like that it is not just like 6+6 or something like that." 

While the challenges certainly were brain-strainers, our TriMathletes were up to the task—three students at the Johns Creek and South Forsyth TriMathlon had perfect scores!

The Mathnasium of Brandon began their event with 
the Plaza Bella Goes Pink cancer walk, raising over $14,000. TriMathletes got to take a break from competing to check out the 4 Way CountDown, Corn Hole and a photo booth, complete with fun masks! 

According to Center Director Becky Daniels, there were plenty of delicious snacks in between events. "We had Popsicles for the kids after the competition, muffins while they waited and cookies after awards as a reward."

Speaking of sweet treats, Athena Ramirez, Center Director of Mathansium of Clear Lake, recalls a funny conversation prior to the TriMathlon. 

"Here's a conversation I had with one of the 4th graders:

Athena: Niki! You should join the TriMathlon. We have awesome prizes! You get to win a Medal!

Niki: Miss Athena. I'll only join if you guarantee that I get to have candy for TriMathlon!

I thought it was the funniest thing that only candy could get her to go. She did win a medal and her candy, of course."

The Clear Lake TriMathlon instructor team was ready for fun with their students when the event started. 

"We had funny gimmicks—like for the instructor name badges, instead of 'Paul, instructor', we put 'Paul, Algebra Ninja', 'Anne, Calculus Commander', 'Cassandra, Geometry Genius', etc. Our name badges were conversation starters since a bunch of the kids and parents were not Mathnasium Students." 

The Mathnasium A+ mascot got plenty of love during the Clear Lake TriMathlon as well. 

"During the 5 minute breaks in between tests, the A+ would come out. During the first break, Athena, Fraction Fairy, would do some stretches, and the A+ and the kids would follow. During the 2nd break, Paul, Algebra Ninja, had to do 3 Ninja moves. The kids loved it! It was a fun little break before we tweaked their brains again."

Rangu Mandyam, Center Director of Mathnasium Oak Park, got great response from returning participants when it was time to play the Skip Counting Game while the scores were being tabulated.

"They remembered it from previous years, even though we do this just for a few minutes before giving them some other activity, depending on how long it takes the graders to tally the scores before the awards ceremony.

We stand in a circle and I start with '1'. The next person says 'Bzz' or some other word we choose to skip the even numbers.  The third person says '3' and fourth person says 'Bzz'. This seems too easy, but it is very interesting to see how many kids have to think a bit before saying the next number. We then go to skipping multiples of three. If time permits we go to multiples of four."

"For one round the taboo word was "Bzz," for another it was "Pokemon" and for yet another it was "Ghost." I let the kids choose the word to replace the skipped number. I want to be able to go to skipping 6, 7, 8 etc., but we never have time to go that far."

Check out these fun videos of TriMathlon participants playing the Skip Counting Game:

The Mathnasium of East Round Rock also combined math fun with costume fun for their TriMathlon.

Bill Nobles, Center Director of the Mathnasium at St. Petersburg, had enthusiastic response from students
, parents and teachers about their local TriMathlon. 

"I think when we started we thought if we could get 10-15 kids in the center for TriMathlon, the event would be a success, since it was our first year. Well, then the enrollments started rolling in. When they got to 30, I thought that was a good number. At 40, I was starting to think it was going to be a very busy day. At 60, I was wondering if we should shut down enrollment, and at 80, I was wondering where everybody would fit!

On the day of the event, we came in early, decorated the center with balloons, had all of our staff on, and nervously wondered how many kids were actually going to show up. As it turns out, we had just under 60 participants, spread almost evenly over the grade levels. Many of the parents, particularly parents of non-Mathnasium students, chose to stay in our waiting area, so we were able to explain the Mathnasium Method and even schedule some assessments as the day went on. We even had two teachers who came just to watch their students and to learn about Mathnasium."

Fun for Parents!

Parents were definitely impressed with the TriMathlon! Two parents at the Mathnasium of Menomonee Falls marveled at how organized their event was, with one parent and their TriMathlete driving over two hours to participate. They enjoyed the competition so much they plan to come back to Mathnasium over the summer for instruction. Another parent told Center Director Anu Deepak that she saw it as "an awesome opportunity for the kids. Her child won the 3rd place and he was so motivated by that and now he wants to do better at the next TriMathlon!"

Swheta Rohit, a parent of a 4th grader at the Mathnasium of North Manchester had this to say about the TriMathlon: "Thank you Mathnasium, kids sure had a good time!" Marney MacFadyen, another North Manchester parent of a 4th grade TriMathlon participant chimed in, "We are thrilled that Chloe was able to participate and we have been busy spreading the word via social media about the program and the TriMathlon." 

Cherie Cason, a parent of two TriMathletes, shared her thoughts on the event: "My 3rd and 5th grader participated in Mathnasium's TriMathlon at the Johns Creek location this past weekend. The instructors at the training facility were very nice, warm and welcoming. It was a great experience for my children."

Cool Prizes!

In addition to flexing their mental math muscles and winning money for their schools, each student walked away with a goody bag and a certificate of participation to show off their achievement. 

The top three scorers in each grade level received additional medals and prizes.

A few TriMathletes showed off their math fitness and their physical fitness on the same day. Martha Gagnon, Center Director of the North Manchester Mathnasium, had two 2nd grade participants who competed in the TriMathlon, then left before the award ceremony for an end-of-season soccer game. Both of them won a medal at the soccer tournament, and while they were there, their parents received an email from Martha saying they were both winners and had won another medal!

The TriMathlon was made possible thanks to generous sponsorship from You Can Do the Rubik's Cube, Lakeshore Learning, Smarties®, and PrintingForLess®.

Tie-Breaker Time!

The TriMathlon isn't over yet! Top scorers will go on to compete in a Tie-Breaker event to be held on October 26-27th. The event will consist of a top secret final challenge, which is on its way to finalist Mathnasium Centers now!

Stay tuned next week on the Number Sense blog for a recap of our TriMathlon Tie-Breaker results! For more fun pictures from our local TriMathlon competitions, check out our Facebook album.

Tell us about YOUR TriMathlon!

Were you a TriMathlon participant or parent? Let us know in the comments here or on Facebook what you thought of your TriMathlon event! 

Have your own fun TriMathlon photos? We'd love to see them! Share them with us on Facebook and/or Twitter using the hashtag #TriMathlon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October/November 2014 Newsflash: Math Muscle Challenge

Grades 1 – 5: Annie looked into a dog park and observed the dogs and their owners. She counted 50 legs. With a total of 16 “beings” (dogs and/or owners), how many dogs and how many owners are in the dog park? (Hint: Annie is not in the dog park.)

Grades 6 and up: If 64 is 40% of a number, what is 60% of the same number?

Answers to Last Month’s Math Muscle Challenge

Grades 1 – 5:  6.25 seconds

Grades 6 and up:  20 gallons

October/November 2014 Newsflash: Tips & Techniques

From time to time, we get lucky and the computation we have to do can be solved using a specific technique or trick that allows us to do effortless mental math.

Level 1:

12 x 125 = _______

The trick to this question is to see that “12” can be broken down into “3 x 4.”

            Think of “12 x 125” as “3 x (4 x 125).”

Now 4 x 125 = 500. (4 x 100 + 4 x 25)

Then, 3 x 500 = 1,500.

Try this (mentally): 8 x 175 = ________.

Level 2:

1/5 + 1/6 = __________

When you add two fractions, and the numerators of the fractions are both 1, the numerator of the answer is the sum of the denominators, and the denominator of the answer is the product of the denominators. In this problem, the numerator is   (5 + 6), and the denominator is (5 x 6).

So, 1/5 + 1/6 = 11/30. [Note: If the denominators are not relatively prime, the answer will have to be reduced.]

Try this (mentally): 1/12 + 1/13 = _____________.

Level 3:

2,000 ÷ 16 = ____________

The trick here is to recognize that 16 is a power of 2, and that powers of 2 make division into “half-of-a-half-of-a…”

In this case, since 16 is “2 to the fourth power,” we simply cut 2,000 in half 4 times.

            Half of 2,000 is 1,000,
                        Half of 1,000 is 500,
                                    Half of 500 is 250, and finally,
                                                Half of 250 is 125.

So, 2,000 ÷ 16 = 125.

Try this (mentally): 3,000 ÷ 8 = ____________.

Note that there is more than one trick for each of these questions. See if you can find others!

October/November 2014 Newsflash: Math Matters

Now that you’re starting to settle into your fall routine, it’s time for that first report card! While this may seem like a stressful time at first, it can also be a very constructive period for you and your child. Here are a few strategies to help you make this the most productive report card season yet.

  • Get a sense of the big picture on the home front and at school. Have a conversation with your child about math regardless of the grade on the report card. You may discover that your high performer is bored and ready for additional challenges … or that your struggling student desperately needs and wants help in order to make the grade! Have a good sit-down with your child’s math teacher—maybe you’ll learn something significant about your child’s attitude in class that will surprise you! Finally, a Mathnasium assessment can be especially eye-opening. Every assessment—first time or otherwise—gives a comprehensive run-down of where each individual child stands with math. Give us a call or stop by the center; we’re happy to review your child’s progress in math, whether you’re new to our center or a long-time Mathnasium Mathlete.
  • Take action! Use what you've learned and, together with your child, set reasonable goals that will lead to meaningful progress in math. Then, chart out a plan to help your child get started. Revisit current study habits, organization strategies, and your at-home study space—what needs to change? Research viable options that can help your child take his or her math skills to the next level (for instance, a school study group, or math games and puzzles you can play at home). Of course, whenever you need us, Mathnasium is here as a resource for all things math!
  • Breathe! Whether the report card brings good news or bad, this really is the perfect time this school year to make positive changes and turn situations around. Be positive—if you implement your action plan sooner rather than later, the report card situation may be more to your liking next time around. And remember: virtually any child can succeed in math—it’s just a matter of teaching the way that makes sense to them. Best of luck to you and your child!