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Patton College faculty create Peace, Love, and Math Club for kids

Published: November 6, 2019 Author: Tony Meale

In 2018, Drs. Courtney Koestler and Mathew Felton-Koestler—both faculty in The Patton College of Education—started the Peace, Love, and Math (PLM) Club to give children an outlet to engage in fun math tasks, explore math tools, and play entertaining math games. The club, intended for students in grades 3-5, is back by popular demand and slated to meet six times during the Fall Semester.

“While it is really for any kid in grades 3-5, it is particularly great for kids whose math strengths may go unrecognized by their peers for a variety of reasons,” said Koestler, PLM director. “In the PLM Club, our goal is to show that there are a wide variety of math strengths that can contribute to a math community of learners and that math can be fun.”

In addition to having fun with math, students learn to see themselves as confident, competent problem-solvers.“In our first meeting of the year, kids sorted three-dimensional shapes and worked collaboratively,” said Felton-Koestler, Teacher Education associate professor. “They compared and contrasted shapes, built off each other’s ideas, explained their reasoning, and explored logical relationships.”

Several parents of participating students have praised the program. One parent, Lindsey Swank Meili, wanted to give her daughters more exposure to math and improve their comfort with the subject. Mission accomplished. Another parent said that her daughter was hesitant to attend PLM Club but wound up loving every minute of it and can’t wait to go back.

“For many people, when they were in school the only way to be smart in math class was to be fast with number facts,” said Koestler. “However, there are many other ways of being smart both in math class and in our everyday lives that kids and adults need to see, and we talk about these different ways of being smart at PLM Club.”

Koestler PLM
Peace, Love, and Math Club Director Dr. Courtney Koestler leads students in an exercise involving shapes.

Koestler and Felton-Koestler both have extensive experience collaborating with local school teachers and working with local students. Koestler serves as director of the OHIO Center for Equity in Mathematics and Science (OCEMS), which is committed to strengthening collaboration, coordination, and communication among Patton College faculty, Ohio University faculty in other colleges, and PreK-16 educators and administrators in Southeast Ohio and beyond.

A former K-8 public school teacher, Koestler’s research interests center on diversity, equity, social justice, and critical pedagogies in early childhood education, elementary education, teacher education, and mathematics education. Felton-Koestler’s research, meanwhile, centers on equity, diversity, and social justice in mathematics teacher education.

Felton-Koestler PLM
Dr. Mathew Felton-Koestler uses an exercise ball to help students measure the moon’s relative distance to the earth.

Their dedication to math—and mathematics teacher education—is clear. One parent, Eleni Zulia, has two kids in PLM Club and was excited to see Koestler and Felton-Koestler’s “commitment to kids in education,” which “helps all learners.”