QC Math: Making the Big Ideas Hands-On

We often get asked what it means for a concept-based math curriculum to be “hands-on”, or “activity-based.” Lisa Bishop, lead developer of our math curriculum, shares some examples of math activities in the QC classroom.

QuantumCamp uses the phrases “hands-on” or “activity based” a lot to describe what happens in our classrooms, and while it might be straightforward to imagine what this might look like for our science classes, sometimes it can be a little harder to picture in regards to math.

Our goal in QC math classes is to present students with the big, abstract, conceptual, and beautiful ideas in mathematics. But, it’s also important to us that students understand why these ideas are important, where they come from, and where they can be used today.

So, when we go after these big ideas, what does this look like in the classroom? Here are a few examples of activities from the 2013-2014 school year.

In Pythagoreans, 5th and 6th graders built tools to measure the angles of sight and used trigonometry to calculate the height of objects we wouldn’t otherwise be able to measure.


In Euler’s Formula, 7th and 8th graders built vectors and used them to discover the geometry of adding and multiplying vectors.


In The Number Line, 1st and 2nd graders discovered they would need two perpendicular number lines to describe locations in two dimensions by exploring a floor-size grid.


In What are the Chances of That?, 3rd and 4th graders used probability to estimate the number of marbles of a variety of colors inside an opaque mystery bag.

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These are just four of the 120 new and unique math activities we ran last year at QC, and we can’t wait to see what this year brings!