Math Career Carnival in Nacogdoches provides lessons for elementary and university students

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Thanks to a partnership between Stephen F. Austin State University's Education Department and Nacogdoches ISD, a highly successful math program continues in Deep East Texas.

It's a mathematics career carnival, and it was held Friday at TJR Elementary.

Peyton Smith is an SFA student teacher, but today he portrays a florist at a math career carnival.

"If we have 60 flowers. how many dozens do we have?" Smith said to a group of students.

"Five. Oh!" the students responded.

"Five. There you go," Smith said.

Seeing that light bulb come on in a child's mind makes Smith's day.

"It feels great," Smith said. "That's what I basically teach for."

The college students' assignment was to develop and construct a carnival career game that teaches a math lesson.

"Good job," one college student said.

There were over 50 booths used throughout the day. A sports analyst utilized percentages while a zoo veterinarian administered medicine to stuffed animals.

Talking about a child she was working with, Sara Pierce, an SFA online student teacher said Lacy the lamb is sick. So, she's figuring out how much dosage she needs and how many milliliters she needs."

East Texas News visited the mathematics career carnival photo booth and found out the entire event is all about learning by doing.

"If they can learn by doing they are going to retain it," said Dr. Paula Griffin, an assistant professor with SFA's Department of Elementary Education. "It's proven. Research shows us when they learn, and they construct their own knowledge, they keep it in a much different way."

Over 30 online student teachers, most with families and full-time jobs while going to school, traveled from places across Texas to show professors in person they're up for the teaching job.

"I think this is easier for them to be watching us right now than it was for me to video myself," said Amy Kelley, an online student teacher from Palestine.

The test is who learns the most, fourth and fifth graders or college students nearing graduation.

"To be honest with you, the future teacher," said Dr. Mark Montgomery, a professor with SFA's Department of Education. "When we make lesson plans, we often tick it off, saying, 'Okay I did that, I did that. I did that. But in an environment like this, it's so fast-paced, they can't do that."

Applying knowledge in simulated real-life settings is what learning is all about.

The math career carnival is in its fourth semester.

Plans are in the works to expand the day, so elementary schools from throughout Deep East Texas can participate.

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