Helping to break a World Record!

On 10 May a World Record attempt was being made at the Zeitz MOCAA at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town – and Masterpack Cape was invited!

As part of the 2019 NumberSense User Group Conference, Grade 4, 5, and 6 students from schools participating in the Standard Bank/Shikaya NumberSense Programme attempted, in 6 hours, to build a 1.8m x 1.8m x 1.8 metre Level 3 Menger Sponge using 18 048 tabbed cardboard squares held together by 36,096 rubber bands.

NumberSense was created by Aarnout Brombacher, a mathematics teacher and leader in the South African mathematics education community, to support children’s development of a robust sense of number and deep understanding of mathematics. The programme is responsive to the developmental needs of children, is informed by current research on how children learn mathematics and provides a comprehensive mathematics solution.

Masterpack Cape produced the Menger Sponge pieces as well as other parts of the GeoGenius construction kit. Tracy Van Eyssen (Customer Services) and Amanda van Greunen (Executive: Operations) were invited to witness the structure being built.

Squares with tabbed sides joined by elastic bands were used to build the level 3 Menger Sponge. The squares have been developed as a component of a geometry construction kit (the GeoGenius Construction Kit) that is used in a wide range of schools across South Africa for the study of three dimensional (3D) Geometry. The GeoGenius Construction Kit was developed as one of the resources used in our NumberSense Mathematics Programme implemented from Grade R (K) through Grade 7.

The building of the Menger Sponge was an interactive activity involving teachers attending the Fourth NumberSense User Group Conference and learners from low socio-economic status schools that are sponsored to use the NumberSense Programme by one of the large national banks. Learners worked from early morning to construct the building blocks and from late afternoon they were joined by the teachers attending the conference to assemble the building blocks into the full Level 3 Menger Sponge.

In addition to beating the current record in terms of both dimensions (1,8m x 1,8m x 1,8m versus the current dimensions: 1,4m x 1,4m x 1,4m) and time taken to complete the construction (less than 1 day versus the current record time taken of 10 years), the activity drew attention to geometry education, in particular, and mathematics education in general.

In a country struggling to deliver quality mathematics education, this activity generated interest and energy for the subject.

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