Moebius Noodles: our first fundraiser
We are building a Creative Commons book and support site for parents who want to enjoy math with their kids. We need to raise $6200 in a week to launch the project.
- An awesome video, FAQs and links to some supporters in “Moebius Noodles 2” post.
- Poster “$1=MILLIONS” with all the happy kids playing our games
The project, starting with the book, will build a community providing peer-to-peer support for parents in ways not currently available elsewhere. From responses from our pilot tests with local math clubs and online parent classes, we expect users of Moebius Noodles to significantly change their approach to early education and their very definition of what mathematics means. We start with the existing parents’ needs and wishes which we have studied and analyzed. We address those, but take them to the next level of mathematical sophistication.
Why are we doing it and why do you care?
- There are very few materials and no community support for smart math for babies and toddlers. Just try to find anything that is not about counting or simple shapes! Mathy parents create opportunities for their own kids, of course. But without support and resources, it’s very hard even for the rocket scientist mothers and fathers. We want to change that!
- Peer-to-peer learning, research and development groups in mathematics education need a process for crowd-funding their projects. We are the trailblazers for other fabulous communities that want to make open and free math materials with the support of their members, such as the group developing materials for learning mathematics through music, the play math network, and the math circle problem-solving depository project.
- We are creating OERs – Open Educational Materials, under Creative Commons license. It means people can access, use, modify and share the materials for FREE. Imagine the project you support translated into any language in the world, and used freely to support young kids everywhere!
- The activities are sustainable in many senses. You can use everyday household items and recycle materials for Moebius Noodles games.
- If you are a parent or teacher who loves arts and crafts but is afraid of math, the book will help you teach your kids mathematics through your talents. If you are a math or science geek who envies other families always doing neat art projects, the arts-math bridge in the book goes both ways!
<a href="http://tippingbucket.org/projects/moebius-noodles"><img src="http://www.naturalmath.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/MoebiusNoodlesFundraiserBadge2.jpg" alt="Moebius Noodles Fundraiser Badge" width="200" height="174" /></a>
<a href="http://tippingbucket.org/projects/moebius-noodles"><img src="http://www.naturalmath.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/MoebiusNoodlesFundraiserBadge.jpg" alt="Moebius Noodles Fundraiser Badge: Math for babies and toddlers" width="100" height="337" />
We need to raise $6200 to launch. Please go to Tipping Bucket.org – “Change the world, or your money back!” is their motto – read more about the project, and donate today. The campaign ends September 21st. Even $1 helps to make this family math dream a reality! We also have these secret rewards for supporters, not shown at the fundraiser page:
Pledge $5 or more – Point. You will be recognized as an official SUPPORTER on our site, PLUS you will receive a limited-edition hand-numbered Moebius Noodles thank-you card with your very own Fibonacci number.
Pledge $13 or more – Interval. You will be recognized as an official MATH MAKER on our site, receive a Moebius Noodles card, PLUS a PDF copy of the book, PLUS participant access to our online support community.
Pledge $34 or more – Square. All of the above, PLUS one souvenir page of notes taken down during our brainstorming and planning sessions, PLUS a printed copy of the book.
Pledge $89 or more – Cube. All of the above, PLUS you can put a two-line dedication by one of the games or stories in the book, with your family name(s) and a brief message to the world.
Pledge $233 or more – Tesseract. You will be recognized as an official PATRON OF MATH MAKERS on our site, PLUS receive one PDF copy and two printed copies of the book, PLUS a secret message with your or your child’s name will be an example in one of the games, PLUS you will get behind-the-scenes access to our work to observe, in detail, the process of making the book.
Pledge $610 or more – Infinite-Dimensional Space Master. Everything included in the Tesseract level, PLUS you will have the power to influence the contents, look and feel of the book, PLUS the authors will design a custom math activity around your child’s interests, name it after your child and include it in the book.
Description from the TippingBucket letter
More details – what’s in the project!
Here is a part of the description we prepared for parents participating in the project:
Cool math concepts. Parents want interesting games for kids. Moebius Noodles games introduce such exciting and beautiful concepts as symmetry, fractals, coordinate planes, functions, transformations, grids or topology. Yes, these concepts are accessible even to toddlers!
Babies are welcome. Parents want deep and meaningful activities for babies and toddlers. No other published materials systematically collect and adapt advanced math topics for the youngest set. Our secret source? Oral traditions of generations of math-y families!
Math that grows with your child. Parents want activities for multiple ages, abilities and styles. Our games are adaptable to a wide range of ages and can grow and get more complex as child’s skills, abilities and interests develop and as parents get more comfortable with playing advanced math with kids. This makes our games ideal for families with siblings of different ages – while instilling the mathematical value of continuity of knowledge.
Math your child owns. Parents want activities that match their children’s passions. Some children love to paint, others – sing, dance, build, tell stories, pretend-play. Some children love animals, others – sports, spaceships, computers, dolls, science labs. Each game description includes plenty of variations and suggestions to help kids bring math into their own worlds.
Active and open support group. The “Moebius Noodles” book develops within a community of parents who share stories and photos, discuss examples, modify games, and ask and answer questions. You are welcome to browse a wealth of supporting materials, get peer help with your personal situation, or share your original ideas, modifications and suggestions for improvements.
Math therapy for parents. For those who feared and disliked math in school, growing up with a firm belief of being bad at math, this book offers a second chance. Forget all that pain! Simply look at and experience the math-rich world around you through playing and exploring together with your child. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you will grow your math eyes.
Even more details – DRIPS analysis!!!
Demand [does it meet a real need?]
As parents, we are interested in creating rich, multi-sensory experiences for our children early on. We want to introduce them to the complex and exciting world around them. Yet when it comes to mathematics, we often do just the opposite – simplify, impoverish, limit. Doing this, we are not giving children a chance to observe, play with and ultimately learn math. The simplistic math is boring not just to children, but to adults as well. The absence of happy familiarity leads to procrastination, frustration, and anxiety when math does come up.
The project grew out of a series of math clubs, parent workshops, and online classes at Natural Math, as well as extensive data collection within these activities. It will redefine early learning for parents and children, and set a significantly different course for their future educational experiences.
Readiness [can it move forward soon?]
The Moebius Noodles project is the capstone of fifteen years of work, which began when Maria Droujkova organized first Natural Math clubs and individual experiments with young kids and their families. The results were unlike anything the families experienced or heard about before; young children became creative in advanced mathematics and were asking for more. To quote a participant parent, it was as if she and her kids “grew new eyes” that saw mathematics everywhere.
Natural Math grew into a network of thousands of parents and educators engaged in a variety of projects, including local math clubs, online classes, grant-funded research, conference presentations, and curriculum development consulting to companies. For each project, we put together a core team with passions and talents that match the project’s needs. We also invite wider community participation and collaboration which is set up in several tiers broken down by the amount of time and effort they are contributing.
A series of partnerships that supports Natural Math projects, including Moebius Noodles, came to be through Math Future, the “community of communities”. It provides more ways to invite wider community participation. In particular, Math Future includes developers of social platforms that support learning (P2PU, OER Glue, Canvas, DZone/Qato), game designers (Math Game Design group with about 30 members), parent group and math club leaders (Living Math, Math Circle Salon, Art of Inquiry), researchers in mathematics education and their study groups (GeoGebra, Scratch from MIT, UC-Berkeley), online learning commons (Art of Problem Solving, Escape from the Textbook), math enrichment centers (Riverbend, Math Advantage) and so on.
The core team consists of three people, each responsible for an aspect of the project. Maria Droujkova leads the content development and helps with the community building and platform design parts of the project. Yelena McManaman leads the overall management and community building, and helps with the content and platform design. Dmitri Droujkov leads the platform design and helps with content development.
Impact [will it make a difference?]
“All you need to know is that it’s possible” – would explain Wolf, an ultra-lightweight backpacker who travels for weeks with a 14-pound pack. From what we have seen in our previous encounters with parents, for many of them just knowing that you can explore meaningful, conceptual math with young kids makes all the difference. Such parents send hot thanks very early after just seeing the Natural Math materials and then share their own math adventures in stories and photos, spreading the message.
However, most people need more support and know-how to even start thinking of early mathematics as anything beyond shapes and numbers. They need many examples of how it can work in different contexts and with different children. They need to see “math faces” – photos of real kids focused on a diagram, laughing at a math joke or playing a math game with abandon. They need to know that others just like them are doing it too. In other words, most parents need a community of practice that already knows meaningful math is possible with young kids, and lives the new life. This is what our project will provide.
We will evaluate participation and success by informal interviews, participation in online communities, distribution of the book and possibly more formal studies in the future. For example, we envision the structure where local parent groups, such as playgroups, homeschool coops and just informal gatherings of friends use materials together, and we will make it possible to let others know there is a group in the area through the site.
Here are a few typical answers to the question, “What is mathematics?” that our math club parents asked kids, after one of our gatherings. This is an example of a qualitative evaluation we do.
“It is this thing that the universe operates on. And it always appears when there are numbers.”
“Math is building, because he can build numbers of everything. Math is in the Universe, it keeps going and going!”
“Math is everywhere and everything. How many lines and dots does a basketball have? How many lines are along our house? How many plants are growing. Math means fun. It is just cool. You just can’t get away from it.”
You can see one of our parent tasks here: http://naturalmath.wikispaces.com/bingo
First, parents observe kids using the rubric, noting examples of each mathematical behavior. They also add their own items to the rubric. Then they sort the items into categories and explain their categories. This provides a prompt for a semi-structured interview.
Propriety [does it fit the context?]
Currently, the biggest challenge is the lack of materials and learning opportunities for parents of young kids to develop the skills for doing meaningful math within families. We plan to use the Internet to disseminate the materials and, more importantly, to provide access to the community that is actively engaged in adapting and modifying this know-how.
Our models include distributed parent networks with local chapters such as La Leche League and Holistic Moms, and also techie communities such as “maker spaces.”
The response to our past efforts, online and locally, has been quite encouraging. The demand is increasing with time, as well.
Sustainability [will it last?]
We hope for the book to be the first in a series, with further materials co-produced with the growing community. Toward that goal, we are working with many highly engaged people in the mathematics education and parenting communities, building a structure that will support expansion.
The online hub will be sustained by volunteers, with many already contributing their time to Natural Math projects because their families and groups benefit, and because they want to make a difference for everybody. We also plan to have paid positions for some of the roles in the community, sustained by consulting, curriculum development, event and sales revenues.
More and more people now realize that a more creative and engaging approach to education in general, and mathematics in particular, is necessary in the modern world. The design of our project matches the changes in educational landscape anticipated in the next several decades. The team behind the project is passionate and driven, and more people join every day.
And, last but not least – it’s a lot of fun!
I am Maria Droujkova. I help parents do advanced, fun math with children. I help mathematics educators develop materials, collaborate and network. I founded Natural Math, one of the first parent math sites online, and Math Future, the first mathematics education series where anyone can meet community and project leaders in live, open events. For the last few years, I have been leading a growing group of concerned parents and educators to make an open and free suite of baby, toddler and young child activities called Moebius Noodles.