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Leaving the blackboard

An experiment carried out a the Landia Santos Public School, in the city of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, in the metropolitan São Paulo, showed that ways of ludic math teaching are more effective that teaching confined to the blackboard. With funding from FAPESP, researchers from USP's Institute of Mathematics and Statistics set up a laboratory, trained six teachers, and applied this proposition for teaching to two classes, and they monitored their development from the 5th to the 8th grade, over the four years of the project.

And they noticed progress in their performance, and even in their personality. “They were more motivated to learn music and drawing, and they involved themselves more with the school”, says Elza Furtado Gomide, the coordinator of the project. When they were in the 6th grade, they were given the test of applied mathematics as was taken by pupils from the first grade of secondary school ( Similar to the ninth grade) – “and they fared better”.

The project was concluded last April, but the laboratory continues to be used by the students at the school. The researchers concentrated on the task of making it more attractive to study. “The children would assemble polygons with colored cardboard, and this is how they learned how the sides and the angles vary, and how the four-sized polygon relates to the eight sided one”, explains Elza.

The pupils who preferred games would test their knowledge of distance and probability, in combat with their adversaries. Between trips to supermarkets to compare the prices of products, and examinations of the home electricity bill to check the consumption of the domestic appliances, they solved the problems of daily life.