On a recent February morning, students filed up the front steps at Ethical Culture as they do each day. However, on this particular day, there was a noticeable uptick in the presence of polka dots, stripes, plaid, and tie dye. It was Pattern Day!
Each year at Ethical Culture, the entire School comes together for a day-long celebration of math! This year’s theme — patterns — highlighted the mathematics authentically woven into the fabric of many disciplines: nature and science, art, music, clothing design, architecture, sports, ethics, language, literature, and, of course, math.
To kick off Pattern Day, the 5th Graders led an assembly to introduce patterns to their peers. They gave examples of patterns they see everywhere in their daily lives and even demonstrated a few — from jumping rope, playing patty-cake, and swimming laps in a pool to your morning routine of stretching, making your bed, and brushing your teeth. To close the assembly, the music teachers led students in singing in rounds, yet another form of a pattern!
According to Ethical Culture Math Specialist Becky Weintraub, “It’s common in our society for people to have negative associations with math. For example, an MTA OMNY campaign advertisement reads, ‘Let US do the math.’ Ethical Culture’s Math Day offers an alternative experience: an opportunity for our entire community to notice and celebrate mathematics in the world around us.”
Teachers made connections to patterns in all grades and in all subjects, not just math class. From learning about negative behavior patterns in ethics classes to exploring speech patterns in poetry in the library to creating “beautiful junk patterns” out of different odds and ends, the day was filled with patterns of all kinds!
Weintraub shares, “As Keith Devlin, the mathematics commentator on National Public Radio's ‘Weekend Edition,’ said, ‘Mathematics is the science of patterns, and those patterns can be found anywhere you care to look for them — in the physical universe, in the living world, or even in our own minds... mathematics serves us by making the invisible visible.’ Our all school Math Day is one of the ways in which we build a positive relationship with mathematics and create a math-literate society.”
We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s Math Day!