Amy's Interview With Dr. Klemm, The Numbers Lady
We've done a lot of sight-seeing around the area, but we've never looked at Washington D.C. through the eyes the Numbers Lady before. In her creative new book, NumbersAlive! Books for Young Travelers Washington D.C., Dr. Rebecca Klemm (a.k.a. The Numbers Lady) takes children on a journey through our capital city with an adorable cast of of numbers known as "Team Ten". From page to page, each cuddly number shares a favorite local spot such as the Washington Monument, Air & Space Museum, the National Mall and beyond.
During their travels, the Team Ten numbers share quirky facts that make learning about numbers and our capital area fun. For example, did you know that the Pentagon has 13 stairways, 19 escalators and 17.5 miles of hallways? Have you ever noticed how many roofs are on the Friendship Arch in Chinatown? (7) Or know how many years are in the Gettysburg Address reference to "four score and seven years?" (87) With such an innovative mix of math and history, it's no wonder that the book was awarded the Book of the Year Award by Creative Child Magazine.
When it comes to making math fun, the Numbers Lady really knows her stuff, so after our family enjoyed the book, my math-phobic self was grateful to have the opportunity to interview her. Hopefully, her insights and advice will help me develop a more positive relationship between my children and numbers!
1) What is your earliest memory of numbers and how did you grow up to love numbers so much?
I was interested in patterns and puzzles from a very young age. I remember taking over the dining room table to make a 99 by 99 magic square when I was in the 6th grade. I was known as “Becky with the Braids” on the School Match Study Group televised classroom. Later, I received a PhD in Statistics and founded my own research firm. I have been working with numbers all of my life!
(2) Why do you think so many students are anxious about math?
Most children are taught to manipulate numbers as abstract flat characters. Few teachers discuss where numbers came from and how math developed as a human endeavor. When numbers are discussed as part of human development to communicate both within and between cultures, numbers/math becomes more useful and interesting, which can break the barrier of a subject that seems very dry to many folks. Many elementary school teachers are more interested or comfortable teaching reading than math, which comes across to students. I believe the terminology of math as “problems” and the size of math books with “problems” and “answers” avoids conceptualizing what math is about and its use to students in daily living. The most important thing is to conceptualize a question, think through how to approach it and then work through the steps both as a team of students and alone.
(3) Why is an early introduction to numbers so important?
Recent NIH studies show early numerical literacy is predictive of later math competency. Engaging, non-stressful activities build a foundation from which mathematics becomes part of everyday life, avoiding the "math anxiety" that many experience later in life. Basically, it’s essential that children become familiar with numbers and comfortable with them before they become fearful of math or believe they are not good at math.
(4) What are a few suggestions for parents to incorporate numbers into daily routines at home?
Parents can show numbers as relevant to the child’s environment by leading “number scavenger hunts” at home, school, or in the neighborhood. Parents can help children find numerical applications in shape, quantity, name, position/rank, time, etc. If the parent and child take photos (or drawings) of the observed numerical applications, they can make a book of the visualizations.
Parents can pose numerical questions to their children at home that relate to the child’s interests. For example, if a child is interested in:
(5) What inspired you to start Numbers Alive?
As a lifelong educator, I have been perplexed by why so many children grow up hating math or thinking that it’s scary. In 2010, I produced a musical called “Cookin’ Up Numbers” in the Capital Fringe Festival. After the show, parents came to me and asked: “What can you do to make my kids love math?” I said I would make numbers “fun and friendly.”
(6) What adventures are Team 10 headed for next (new cities, new books)?
We are developing a range of products and educational content. The central product is soft plush number characters with bright colors and friendly faces. The same number characters appear in our books, apps, games, posters and activities.
Ready for the 2013 holidays:
Coming in 2014 & beyond:
(7) Are there any upcoming events where children can meet the Numbers Lady?
For more information please visit the Numbers Lady and Team Ten at http://www.numbersalive.org.
Kid Trips Northern Virginia Edition
Buy New $12.59
About The Blog
Kid Trips' blogs profile fun events and cool family-friendly venues. We focus on regional and national family travel articles.
Blogs Via Email
Links We Love