CASSTOWN — No one likes disorder in their kingdom, especially in the wild world of mathematics.
Engaging the mind, body and performing arts soul, Miami East Junior High School sixth grade students embraced their inner Shakespeare and applied the art of theater to … math?
Each year, sixth grade students collaborate with Michael Kenwood Lippert, director of the Muse Machine Elementary Program, to pen and perform their own play to emphasize areas of standardized tests.
This year’s play was entitled “The Palace of Pemdas,” which keeps math nice and orderly when the math kingdom follows all the rules of their respective properties. Pemdas is an acronym for Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction.
And when the Palace of Pemdas gets unruly, they really can break it down and let their inner numbers loose in calculated chaos.
“This is probably one of my favorite groups I’ve worked with since I’ve been coming here. They are very game, they are open to try anything and they are a big kind of wonderful personalities,” Lippert said about the students.
Lippert will travel to more than 26 different schools as an artist-in-residence for the Muse Machine Elementary Program.
“When we learn this way — using our bodies, our voices, our faces, our creativity, our soul and we are up and moving and having fun — I think it just gets in our body deeper than if we are just sitting at a desk trying to study for a test,” Lippert said.
Other Miami County Schools including Covington Elementary and Van Cleve Sixth Grade participate in the Muse Machine Elementary Program.
“In this environment where schools are right now, which are so focused on testing, there’s just not a lot of fun going on, so, you know, this is fun, while we are learning at the same time,” Lippert shared. “And they are learning about an art form as well.”
The “King of Mount Math” Bryce Crumrine ruled with an iron yardstick over his fellow mathematicians.
“I’m the King of Properties,” Crumrine shared. “I auditioned and I got the part. My favorite part is getting to yell at the parentheses because I’m making them promise to always go first in the order of operations.”
Crumrine said the play has helped him memorize not only the order of operations, but also different properties of math.
“The Associative and Commutative properties are kind of easy for me, but the distributive ‘ballet’ part helped me because I really didn’t understand it at first and now I do because of this play,” he said.
Emma Sutherly, Laura Pottorf and Chloe Gump, all 12, shared their highlights of the math musical theater experience.
“I liked all the silly dances and just the experience of just bonding with the whole sixth grade,” Gump said.
Sutherly, with an ‘X’ on her forehead, shared the meaning of PEMDAS.
“I am the third step. It’s the order of operations and it’s what you do when you are figuring out an equation,” she said.
Pottorf, an excellent exponent, shared how the experience of the play helped her keep all the rules in math in order with their silly song and sayings.
“I really didn’t get it last year,” Pottorf said. “Now all the lines and songs are stuck in my head. Now I can re-say them and say ‘Oh yeah! That’s how you do it.’”
The workshop was made possible by grant money from the Miami East Education Foundation and the Miami County Foundation.
Sixth graders in the classes of LaDonna Mays, Jamie Crane, Dan Hickman and Kris Brush performed the play for parents on Monday evening.
For more information about the Muse Machine Elementary program, visit www.musemachine.com.