by Vannak Lach and Stephanie Boegeman
PEPY has organized the first Math Camp this year, held from August 30th to September 2nd for students in Grades 2 through 5. Our newly formed technical team has been assessing the math skills of students and teachers at Chanleas Dai, Prasat Knar and Run Primary schools and the idea of the math camp was to address some of the findings and help develop this subject in students and teachers.
“During the observation, we found out that all the teachers at these schools have low knowledge in mathematics, including the techniques used in their teaching. So the purposes of this camp are to help build math knowledge to those teachers and share teaching techniques with them, and to help attract the students to study math,” said Vannra Or, PEPY’s Math Technical Officer. Another goal of the camp is to provide students with challenging and fun activities during the summer, so that they have something to focus on while school is out.
Math camp has been combined with PEPY’s Literacy Camp this year, so that all participants study both subjects. Before the camp began, the students took a pre-test so that they could be grouped based on their ability. Camp facilitators were mostly primary school teachers, but we also selected some students from high school to help facilitate our camp this year due to the increase of participants. We provided a two-day training on facilitating skills to those teachers and students before doing their jobs in the camp.
PEPY hopes to build upon the lessons learned from our annual Literacy Camp that has been running successfully for the past four years. Vannra hopes that Math Camp will benefit teachers and students as much as Literacy Camp does, as “from one year to another of our literacy camp, we can see first-hand much improvement in the students’ ability in reading.”
During the Math Camp, the students are encouraged to apply what they learn into real practice through many activities and games. To gain familiarity with shapes, students made a rectangle from wood and looked for geometric shapes in schools and houses in their communities. Other students played games to get familiar with odd and even numbers and practice their arithmetic skills. Older students used tools to measure the dimensions of tables and gardens in their school. Chotvitya Iem, another Math Technical Officer at PEPY, explained, “the students have never done this kinds of activities in the class before.”
705 students from 8 primary schools participated in the camp this year. Over 50 of these students joined the camp while in progress, after hearing about the camp activities from their friends.
Camp organizers are already planning on improvements for next year. They will arrange even more training time for facilitators and provide more materials for use during the camp.