By Way of Explanation
A few years ago when sharing my work with the Ouro Preto Math Trail at a
meeting in Nepal an audience member asked me about my math trail in
Sacramento. I had to pause, and after a bit of professorial
hemming and hawing I rather sheepishly admitted to a nasty secret “that,
I, well, I, uh… don’t have one”.
When I returned home I outlined a new course
EDTE 18: Mathematical Practices across Cultures.
course was accepted and the students and I went to work, exploring day
to day possibilities, creating mathematical models, and increasing
awareness about the mathematics around us, some of what you see here.
How did all of this begin?
First of all, this
is not an original idea.
I owe a great deal to the work of
Kay Toliver, who inspired me many
years ago when I first heard her speak at a
California Mathematics Council
conference. Her award winning film "Good Morning Miss Toliver" became a
staple of my methods courses, where she demonstrates the
work of her students at East Harlem Tech, and the Math Trails they
Though the seeds to the Sacramento State Math
Trail were planted in Nepal, the idea actually came from a year abroad
in Brasil. During
the 2005-2006 academic year I was guest of the Universidade Federal de
Ouro Preto under the auspices of
Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico do Brasil.
During my time in Ouro Preto I was able to construct a
and organize students into groups and gather a great deal of data.
Together we explored the math we found in the cobblestones, arches,
spirals and addresses of Ouro Preto. Some of the groups produced some very good models that you can see on
A Trilha da Matemática
de Ouro Preto
The Ouro Preto Math Trail
The next summer, the good people at Kathmandu University in Nepal
invited me as a Fulbright Senior Specialist to spend six weeks working
with the ethnomathematics group. Together, we developed a series of
investigations that the "lads" and I put together, some of which
are in various forms of repair and can be found at the
The Kathmandu Univeristy Math Trail
What you see here is a modest collection of work from my students at
California State University, Sacramento.
Over time, I hope this trail will grow to provide a number of models and
activities that teachers anywhere may use and adapt to their own campus and student
Kay Toliver says, "In
this activity, I saw a way to get my students working with each other, a
way to have them become active learners, and a way to increase their
respect for their own community."
This is my hope, this is my goal.
Daniel Clark Orey, Ph.D., Project Coordinator
California State University, Sacramento