Adrienne Keiner Hosts A Very Successful Mathapalooza!

adrienne3Mathapalooza. Just sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Students at Peirce Elementary School on Chicago’s North Side would say yes-VERY awesome! Mathapalooza was a gigantic success again this year. Adrienne Keiner has always been a huge fan of project based/hands on learning experiences for all children. As a math-loving sixth grade teacher , she wanted a day where students participated in math games created and presented by the students themselves. With the support of her administrators, she made it happen. This is now the third consecutive year Adrienne Keiner has hosted the successful Mathapalooza event. It gets more popular every year!

The students worked very hard to plan and design a carnival like atmosphere, which they set up in the school’s gym. Participants were rewarded with small stickers for their success in answering challenging Math Problems. These stickers could later be traded in for awesome prizes purchased at the local dollar store. From throwing bean bags to rolling dice, all games were designed to get kids thinking. One student based his game after Chicago’s own Bozo’s Circus . The Bozo Show is a locally produced children’s television show aired on WGN-TV.  It was a big hit!

Sound like hard work? When Keiner was asked about this she replied,  “Yes! But not by me!” Mathapalooza was completely student driven-from start to finish! Her role was basically a mediator. She got the ball rolling two weeks prior to the occasion, by sharing a rubric of high expectations with her students. Students easily related, due to their prior years as participants. However, now it was their turn to create the games! The most difficult part for the students, was to adapt to the person standing in front of them. Math problems had to change drastically from kindergarten to seventh graders! Students had to react quickly and incorporate critical thinking skills. Keiner said her sixth grade mathematicians were a bit worried over creating games challenging enough for their 7th grade peers. This kept the young presenters on their toes!  The sixth graders pulled off the challenge and the seventh graders loved it.

Here’s another really awesome tidbit-the students were responsible for integrating some sort of technology into their game/presentation.  (Ahhh-the magic of STEM) Some children had a digital stopwatch ticking, while other students were sharing how to create a Vine.  Keiner claims that that her work with the MSU Urbanstem Cohort fully aligned and supported the Mathapalooza adventure! Keiner looks forward to hosting the 4th annual Mathapalooza next year. She was very impressed with the student’s use of various materials and collaboration efforts. In reflection, Keiner mentioned she would love to work closely with the Art teacher next year in hopes of incorporating a little more artistic flair. She feels this would encourage students to keep thinking about math in other areas of their school day.


As the big day came to a close, Keiner said the students were completely excited, yet completely exhausted! The game-makers scurried about the gym all day, constantly promoting their games. They worked hard to entice participants to visit their booth. The students of Peirce Elementary had a blast and as Keiner explained, “It’s like Disneyland, no one walks away unhappy.”