Adaptation and Math Week

Several weeks ago, we invited prospective students to campus on a Saturday morning for admissions testing. Since parents were not allowed in the buildings, many took self-guided tours of campus, and I did my best to connect with all of them.

At one point, I rounded the corner by the black gate and saw two parents staring toward the sky. What could be so interesting?

Balls on the roofAs it turns out, their gaze was focused on the gym roof, and 10-12 playground balls in particular that sat tantalizingly close to the edge. That led me to tell this story.

Middle Schoolers invent myriad games during their recess/snack time. In the fall, our seventh graders began throwing and kicking balls against the gym wall. This evolved into kicking balls onto the roof. The balls would bounce around and eventually fall down… until they didn’t. One by one, balls began to get stuck by the edge.

To their credit, the students adapted. The game morphed once again; the new goal was to throw or kick a ball and dislodge one that was stuck. Now accuracy mattered. I took some turns myself; it was not an easy task.

What happened next was likely foreseeable. All of the balls became stuck. This sent the kids in search of a fresh supply, and in conversation with Ms. Khan about using STEM options to free the balls. Those ideas – involving ladders, PVC pipes, duct tape, and rope – are still “in development.”

I’ve worked with seventh graders for each of the past 27 years, and I can assure you that these activities are very normal. Moreover, when I think of the importance of in-person school, it extends far beyond what happens in the classroom. Daily opportunities to imagine, invent, collaborate, negotiate, adjust, and problem solve – these moments help shape the Middle School experience, and we’re grateful that they’re happening this year.

Math Week: March 15-18

Looking ahead to the week after Spring Break, it’s officially Math Week. Check out all the fun, and be sure your children are ready to participate.

Monday (3/15) – “Dress as Your Favorite Number” Day
Find a way to incorporate your student’s favorite number into their wardrobe. An athletic jersey? Masking tape? We look forward to seeing creativity on display.

Tuesday (3/16) – “Dress as Your Favorite Shape” Day
Of course, math is about more than numbers. Does your child love squares? Circles? Lines? No matter the shape, let’s find a way to “wear it” proudly on Tuesday.

Wednesday (3/17) – “Dress In Patterns” Day
Stripes? Polkadots? Go with a consistent theme from top to bottom, or feel free to mix and match.

Thursday (3/18) – Pi Day
TDS veterans know that we are serious about celebrating Pi Day, and neither Covid nor Spring Break can stand in our way. Pi shirts (purchased or homemade) are certainly encouraged, but the main task is to memorize the first 25 decimal digits of pi (3.1415926535897932384626433). Those who do will earn an oatmeal cream pie.

And that’s not all! Other Math Week highlights will include:

Problem of the Day – Students will have a chance to solve a challenging problem each day. Those answering correctly will earn a chance to win fabulous prizes.

All-School Estimation Jar – It won’t just be the Lower School doing the estimating. Middle Schoolers and teachers will be in on the act as well.

Grade-Level Competitions for Reciting Most Digits of Pi – As has become our custom, those who are so moved will recite as many digits as possible on Tuesday or Wednesday. Winners (one per grade level) will recite in front of the entire school on Thursday afternoon!

All students (those in-person and those learning from home) are encouraged to participate in all of these activities. The week will culminate with our All-School Assembly on Thursday (3/18) at 2:05 PM. We hope to see you (on screen) there!

Doug Norry
Head of School