Math Enrichment

About Math Enrichment

  • The Upper School Math Enrichment classes aim to deepen students’ comprehension of and appreciation for the history of mathematics and its application both in the classroom and in daily life. Students will experience mathematics in new ways by utilizing the methods and philosophies of classical mathematicians and the technology and creativity of modern mathematicians.

    Seventh grade students will focus on the history of mathematics and what the important mathematicians can teach us about being a student. Eighth grade students will then turn their focus to the application of mathematics across multiple topics in daily life. The students will work together to tackle real-world problems with a project-based learning approach. These classes are not graded. They are meant to foster a deep understanding of mathematics and its applications. This is accomplished in true Westminster fashion – through curiosity, discussion, and trial and error.

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7th Math Enrichment Updates

  • Unit 3: Chinese Math-Magic!

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 2/11/2019

    Currently in 7th grade, students are learning about different aspects of ancient and modern Chinese mathematics. We started off with a study of magic squares, squares whose rows, columns, and diagonals all sum to the same number. We had a competition in each class to see who could complete the most magic squares in a set amount of time. Congratulations to our winners, Kai Wang in the Thursday class and Trevor Klein and Jacob Bredbenner in the Friday class! 

    We then move on to a visual method of multiplying two whole numbers. Ask your child to show you how to multiply 21 by 34 using the Rod Method!

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  • Unit 2: From Zero to Infinity

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 12/2/2018

    In this unit, we are learning about the addition of zero into the number system by Indian mathematicians. We explore this frequently overlooked number and see how important it is to perform calculations and to express different ideas in business and technology. We then fast forward in time to more modern Indian mathematical advances by watching portions of The Man Who Knew Infinity, a true story about the achievements of a young Indian man studying in England despite facing serious discrimination.


    To extend at home, ask your child how the symbol for zero came to be and why Western civilization was hesitant to adopt zero into their number system.

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  • Class 6: Euclidean Geometry

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 11/26/2018

    This week in 7th ME, we analyzed the Father of Geometry's first construction: how to make an equilateral triangle using only a compass and a straight edge. After trying (mostly unsuccesfully) without Euclid's guidance, we translated his language into our own, 7th-grade appropriate steps. After using the tools that were available to Euclid, we followed his same steps using technology - Geogebra, an online Geometry software that is free to use. 

    To extend at home, go online with your child and play around with the different tools in Geogebra. Can you create a triangle with more than one obtuse angle? Why or why not?

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  • Class 5: Logic in Advertisements

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 10/12/2018

    This week in 7th Math Enrichment, we analyzed many commercials for their logic (or lack thereof!). For each commercial, we discussed the purpose, the target audience, the evidence given to purchase the item, the relevance of that evidence in light of the target audience, and finally the soundness of the logic. 

    For example, in looking at this commercial for Chevy cars, we discussed:

    • Purpose - to buy a Chevy car
    • Audience - elderly adults
    • Evidence - buying a Chevy car will make you feel or seem younger
    • Relevance - this evidence is relevant to the target audience, who frequently want to relive their younger days
    • Logic - while humorous, there is not sound logic in this commercial. Buying a Chevy does not have a fountain of youth effect.

    To extend at home, have a discussion about the evidence and logic used in a commercial during your family's favorite tv show.

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  • Class 4: Introduction to Philosophy

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 10/1/2018

    In 7th Math Enrichment, we are learning about how math became more abstract than simple addition and multiplication. Ancient philosophers held math in such high esteem because it provides us with the tools to think logically and to reason with evidence. We began our discussion of philosophy with a thought experiment, listed below. Then we brainstormed all the possible topics that we can learn about - both at school and outside of school. We sorted those topics into categories to try and determine what philosophy attempts to study. We conclude with the general description that philosophy is an attempt to analyze what we know and why we believe what we believe.


    To extend at home, discuss the thought experiment from class: You are at the wheel of a self-driving car. A group of three young children darts out in front of the car, and their elderly nanny chases after them. The car alerts you to the fact that you will hit the children unless you swerve to hit the nanny. What do you do?

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  • Class 3: An introduction into all things dark and mysterious

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 9/24/2018

    In 7th Enrichment, we learned about the Egyptian method of multiplying and dividing large numbers. We discussed how only the elite were able to study math, reading, and writing, which led the general population to believe math was "dark and mysterious." The Egyptians used patterns to multiply and divide as opposed to our algorithms.

    To extend at home, try multiplying 83 x 7 using the Egyptian method.

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  • Class 2: The First Number System

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 9/17/2018

    Recently in 7th Math Enrichment, we learned about the first written number system on record, the Babylonian number system. There is an important difference in their system, which is that the Babylonians counted in base 60 instead of our base 10. That means that the Babylonians had digits for the numbers 1 - 59 instead of our usual 0-9. We learned how to convert between their system and ours using our knowledge of place value and a diagram of the Babylonian digits.

    To extend at home, discuss the benefits of using base 10 versus base 60.

     Ece and Haydn convert between Babylonian numbers and our numbers

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  • Class 1: The Birth of Mathematics

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 9/10/2018

    Right now in school, students are learning why and when math began. Why did it evolve from tally marks to number systems? How are these systems similar to and different from ours? How did early mathematicians multiply and divide numbers? What aspects of early life were made easier by the creation of a number system?


    To extend at home, discuss the qualities of early man's life that required the use of math. 

    Early man

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8th Math Enrichment Updates

  • Unit 3: Living on a Budget, or How Much is Enough?

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 11/26/2018

    Currently in 8th ME, students are learning about what it means to have a liveable wage and to create an annual budget within their means. We will take a look at the purchasing power of a minimum wage job, specifically in regards to the main budget concerns of housing, transportation, food, medical expenses and insurance, and taxes.

    To extend at home, have a conversation about wants versus needs, especially around the holiday season. Why is it important to budget your money, even if you live comfortably? How can we who have an abundance help those who do not have enough money to cover their needs?

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  • Unit 2: Math Research

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 10/1/2018

    Currently in 8th Math Enrichment, we are learning the ins and outs of mathematical research. The math project for the year is learning about the history of mathematics through the discoveries of the most influential mathematicians. Each student has chosen a mathematician to study and write a three-page biography about. In class, we will discuss methods of research (online and in a library), APA citations, and essay writing.

    To extend at home, take your child to the public library and find some books that discuss their important mathematician!

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  • Unit 1: Personal Finance

    Posted by Alexa Schmidt on 9/3/2018

    Currently, in Math Enrichment, students are learning the fundamentals of personal finance - budgets, different types of bank accounts, and the stock market. The students will be participating in a class competition using the website How the Market Works in which they each have $100,000 to invest in different stocks. We have talked about the importance of diversification and the different levels of risk, so we shall see who is the best investor in the class!


    To extend at home, talk with your child about the different types of investments that you have made and how they have helped you prepare for future expenses. Ask to see their portfolio and maybe even help brainstorm some stock to invest in!

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