Los Angeles, CA, Nov 1, 2012 “The Geometry of Chocolate” presentation by MIND Research Institute’s Nigel Nisbet at the Second Annual TEDxOrangeCoast event: Redefining Relevance was posted on YouTube today by TEDxTalks. Featured in The Orange County Register, Nisbet’s presentation met with positive reviews by attendees at the October 10, 2012 event.
In the just over ten minute video, the former Los Angeles Unified teacher, Nisbet, describes his “Aha” moment about how to make math relevant to students who had failed Algebra more than once. “I was at the supermarket, I was standing in the line staring at the candy…and it hit me,” said Nisbet. “I realized there was something I could use to completely change the way I taught math, and something that I knew every child in my class would relate to: chocolate.”
After his realization, which came after years of teaching math – often unsuccessfully – in the traditional lecture style, Nisbet changed the way he taught by setting aside textbooks. Instead, he built his math class around hands-on, relevant math puzzles, such as having students investigate why manufacturers choose certain geometric shapes for their chocolate bars. Not only were his students more engaged, they were learning to problem-solve on their own, and ultimately, said Nisbet, “85% of my students passed the math course they had previously failed.”
Three years ago Nisbet discovered a math program – Spatial Temporal (ST) Math® -- that perfected his new teaching strategy but through the use of online, visual puzzles. The level of engagement of students with the software that he saw first-hand convinced Nisbet that he could have a larger impact, and reach more children, if he worked alongside the developers of ST Math at MIND Research Institute.
A former rock musician, Nisbet spent decades in math education, working most recently to improve the effectiveness of teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S. In 2010, he joined a team of math education software developers at the MIND Research Institute, a nonprofit based in Santa Ana, Calif., that researches, designs and delivers math instructional software to 1,300 schools across the country.
“Math is a language we use to describe this incredible world around us,” said Nisbet, who stressed the critical importance of problem-solving skills in finding success in today’s society. “Math is the new literacy for the 21st Century.”
The TEDx video can be found here.
About Nigel Nisbet
A former rock musician, Nisbet spent decades in math education, working most recently to improve the effectiveness of teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S. In 2010, he joined a team of math education software developers at the MIND Research Institute, a nonprofit based in Santa Ana, Calif., that researches, designs and delivers math instructional software to 1,300 schools across the country. At MIND, Nisbet devotes his time to reaching into the structure and beauty of mathematics and finding ways to build engaging, interactive and completely visual games that teach all students how math really works. He feels that there is much work left to be done; despite now reaching half-a-million students his experience of working with children in very different parts of the world shows that given the right tools, all students can be mathematical thinkers and problem solvers.
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