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Learning pilot pairs math, art for 2nd-graders

SARTELL, Minn. -- Math and art come together in a new program introduced by Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center. Math SmARTS uses math and art to teach the concepts and enhance positive attitudes toward the subjects. Two second-grade classes...

SARTELL, Minn. -- Math and art come together in a new program introduced by Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center.

Math SmARTS uses math and art to teach the concepts and enhance positive attitudes toward the subjects. Two second-grade classes at Sartell's Pine Meadow and Oak Ridge elementary schools are part of the pilot project. If it succeeds, it could be implemented on a larger scale, said Jane Oxton, education outreach coordinator at the Paramount Theatre.

"If a second-grade girl decides math isn't for her, that can stick with her," Oxton said. "If a second-grade boy thinks dance is dumb, it can stick with them."

Ceramic artist and Paramount Theatre visual arts director Melissa Gohman taught 22 students Friday in Jean Muntifering's second grade class at Pine Meadow. The lesson taught students how to make decorative titles using geometric patterns much like those used on what are called Islamic tiles.

The tiles and patterns are common on ancient buildings.

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Gohman uses math terminology while explaining how to make the tiles. The overlap is surprising, she said.

"It's an authentic art experience," Gohman said. "But it's reinforcing the geometry lessons they've had."

The students watched wide-eyed as Gohman explained how to etch designs into the clay. Chatter and laughter filled the room.

The Paramount started working on the initiative in 2010, and received $3,587 in grants from the Greater Minnesota School Arts Fund and the Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation.

A math professor at St. Cloud State University is helping track the program's success.

Math SmARTS started this fall, and is working with Gohman and David DeBlieck, a dance teacher. The lessons will continue through April.

Muntifering already has noticed results. Some students worry about math. Others have pre-conceived notions about dance.

"What we've done so far has been wonderful," Muntifering said. "We want them to improve their attitudes and achievements."

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Oxton hopes the program will introduce new teaching techniques. If the program succeeds and they can receive more funding, she could see it expanded into other grades. The Paramount helps by providing new classroom tools, Oxton said. More teachers are interested in the pilot.

"Somebody needs to be the broker," Oxton said. "Schools just don't have the time or personnel to make this happen. Someone has to be a connector."

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Related Topics: AVIATIONEDUCATION
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