UHV students, professor demonstrate innovative ways to teach math concepts

Teachers who attended a recent regional math conference learned from five University of Houston-Victoria students and their professor how coffee filters, Jell-O boxes, the height of President Abraham Lincoln and even Mentos candy can be used to teach math concepts in schools.

Barba Patton

Barba Patton, an assistant professor in the School of Education & Human Development, took five UHV education majors to the Rio Grande Valley Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual meeting to present workshops to South Texas teachers. The conference was Saturday at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.

“The conference gave the students a very good first impression of professional development opportunities that are out there for teachers, and it gave them some experience presenting and some new ways to teach math,” Patton said.

As part of Patton’s fall elementary math and science class, the students submitted workshop proposals under her guidance to the meeting organizers. Patton and the students were selected to present four workshops available to the approximately 1,100 teachers who attended the conference. The students also had the chance to attend workshops to get ideas for their future classrooms.

Student Aneela Faarquo, who takes classes from UHV at the UH System at Cinco Ranch, and fellow student Lauren Mayo presented the workshop “Money” and gave ideas to teachers about how to help students become familiar with different bills and coins. They taught teachers a memory game and other games they could play in their classrooms.

Katrina Pogue and Krystal Patek presented “Comparing Heights,” and showed teachers how they could teach measurement by having students compare their height to the height of Lincoln, the tallest U.S. president at 6 feet 4 inches tall.

Student Mayra J. Gutierrez, who takes classes from UHV at UHS at Cinco Ranch, taught “Flying Math Mentos with Soaring Soda Geysers.” She taught teachers how to engage their students in measuring liquids and distances by putting Mentos candy into dark-colored diet soda. This causes a geyser that shoots up to 15 feet in the air, Patton said.

Patton presented “Math can be Green,” and showed teachers how to present math concepts using inexpensive and recycled materials. Students can learn about surface area by using Jell-O boxes and fractions by folding paper coffee filters, she said.

“Providing these types of opportunities for our students not only will inspire them to become better teachers after they graduate, it also highlights the high-quality students we have coming out of UHV,” said John Stansell, dean of the School of Education & Human Development. “We want to help improve the quality of education at public schools across the state, and the ideas presented in the math workshops by our students and Dr. Patton show ways to teach math concepts in innovative and interesting ways.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Paula Cobler