The "Aha" Series: "We were all doing the same type of math—whether in the classroom or in a restaurant"

This week, we asked some of our Lower and Upper Elementary students to share a favorite story that illustrates a moment of joyful discovery when an idea really clicks and the “aha!” epiphany brings new life to learning.


Joseph (LE)
When I learned to do dynamic multiplication in my head! It was when I was visiting Upper Elementary and Zachary showed me how to do it. He did a couple problems first and showed me how. It took a couple tries, but then I did it. So that was a big jump…In the beginning it looked really hard, but now I feel like it’s like “2+2”.

Katie (LE)
I knew that you could stick two magnets together, like in a science experiment, but I didn’t know you could go outside and find things like rocks that are magnetic. That’s really cool!

Caroline and Callie (LE)
Caroline: We learned how the sun and earth move around each other.
Callie: We learned that in Kindergarten!
Caroline: Yeah, but we learned it again! And now we really get it. We didn’t get it before.
Callie: And now we know the earth isn’t next to the sun. We know the order of all the planets–from the song!
Caroline: Yeah, the song from the LE play! The planet song…Oh, what’s it called???
Callie: Whatever–it’s the song from Star Search! And yeah, we all know the order of the planets now.

Morgan (LE)
I learned that you can burn paper with a magnifying glass. I had no idea the sun could be that strong!

Mackenzie (LE)
Did you know that if you spin a bucket really fast over your head the water doesn’t fall out? I can’t believe that!

Alexandra (LE)
I wrote a report about African elephants for the World Tour. I learned that they eat up to 500 pounds of vegetation a day! And they drink up to 40 gallons of water at a time! I learned so much. And that’s why I like Inly so much.

Lucy (UE)
In math, I didn’t know how to combine integers. My teacher tried to explain it to me, but I couldn’t figure it out. Then she explained it in a different way–she drew it–and then I understood it. I needed to see a picture to really get it, and now I do.

Gabby (UE)
In Cultural Studies, we were studying population density of different countries and looking at picture graphs. I thought for sure that China would be the most densely populated, but it wasn’t. When we saw the picture graph we saw that the country is so huge that the people are more spread out. I was so surprised! Singapore was the most densely populated because it’s so tiny. 

Nathan (UE)
“The Periodic Table didn’t make much sense to me until Jessie explained how it was arranged…how the order has to do with the number of electrons and protons. Now when I look at it, it makes sense.”

Maddie (UE)
“I didn’t really like reading before so I didn’t want to read that much. Now all of a sudden I like it and I’m reading a lot more this year up in upper elementary. I like reading the books in our classroom.”

Jeremy (UE)
“When I thought about the meaning of the word ‘percent’ and broke it into ‘per’ and ‘cent,’ which means one hundred, it made perfect sense to me in math.”

Kayia (UE)
“We learned all about the ph in science this year, and about acids and bases–how you measure things from 1-7 and from 7-14 on the ph scale, and how water is in the middle…because it’s neutral.”

Raychell (UE)
“This year I learned how to be a much better writer. I learned how to tell a story that’s really detailed. I went back and added more and more detail until it was really interesting to read.”

Cole, Sam, and Luke (UE)
“In our math group this week we were learning about percentages. When Joanne asked us if we’d been to restaurants and watched our parents figure out percentages to do the tip, then we got it. We were all doing the same type of math—whether in the classroom or in a restaurant.”

[This post originally appeared in Rhythm & News, the Inly School newsletter, on May 9, 2009.]

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