My KDL Story: Girls Count

"These clubs encourage kids to come to the library and stimulate the imagination, as well as being educational and fun activities..."

Girls CountThe school day has been over for hours, but on a recent Monday evening, more than a dozen girls in grades 3 to 5 gather at the Kentwood branch, clearly geared up for some after-school fun — with math.

They arrive in pink barrettes, jeans with sparkles on their back pockets, polka-dot skirts with lace trim, high-top sneakers with purple laces. Several have calculators, and most of those are pink.

Today's lesson: learning about the Greek letter pi (π) through the use of paper plates, purple yarn and scissors.

"I'm good (at math) and not good at the same time," says 9-year-old Angela Sherrod. "When my mom told me about this club, I was like, 'I already have a lot of stuff going on in my life.' But this is fun."

The free "Girls Count" math club, held September 19 to November 14 at the Kentwood branch, is part of Mind Boggle, a Grand Rapids-based program aimed at encouraging math, science and engineering skills in children.

Clubs scheduled so far this year will be held from January 23 to February 27 at the Wyoming branch and April 16 to May 21 at the East Grand Rapids branch. Registration is not required.

Executive Director Keli Christopher is an engineer and educator who said she struggled with math when she was growing up.

"I just did not like math when I was in school," she said. "I wasn't good at it, it wasn't fun for me and nobody encouraged me."

In Girls Count, each hour-long class includes hands-on activities such as "Barbie Bungee" to learn about linear regression, and a mini cooking class where girls adjust recipes to work on their fraction skills.

"My goal is to get girls confident working with math, more willing to participate, and to spend time with a grown-up woman who is confident and can have fun with it," Christopher said. "We don't want math to be intimidating."

Shari Tolan pitched the idea of joining Girls Count to her 7-year-old daughter, Elise, who was having trouble in math class at school.

"We came to the first one and she just had a blast," Shari said. "She comes home and talks about what they learned in the club, which I don't even get from her school days."

Kentwood branch Manager Cheryl Cammenga calls the community partnership between KDL and Mind Boggle programs "a win-win situation." The branch's chess club for kids and adults — where a chess enthusiast from the community monitors and sets up games and tournaments — is a similar partnership.

"We have the space to accommodate group activities, but do not have the staff to host many additional programs," Cammenga said. "These clubs encourage kids to come to the library and stimulate the imagination, as well as being educational and fun activities."

For more information about the Girls Count math club, go to Mind Boggle's Facebook page.

 

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