Beth Baker, Eureka, CA firstname.lastname@example.org
As many things do, my side job as a co-host for a live, call-in television show began with an innocent phone call. “I hear you like to talk about math,” said my caller. I was hooked. “Just call 497-5044 with your math and science questions!” is ingrained in my psyche at this point. Homework Hotline is a locally produced math and science call-in show for students. Our PBS affiliate, KEET TV, produces the show and it airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30. Teams of math and science teachers take turns in a four week rotation to do science demonstrations between calls. As a special favor the producer, Sam, schedules my little sister (she is the little one) as my science partner. We finish each other’s sentences on camera just as we do the rest of the time. Our synchronized “Hi, Mom!” during the intro is one of our running bits.
2017 is my sixth season and the callers never cease to delight. From two-digit multiplication woes (that we tackle with generic rectangles), to solving equations, to fifth graders who have forgotten long division, the math calls are mostly procedural. With my CPM background I can almost always show a visual approach that is supported by a concept rather than just going straight for the algorithm.
My favorite call recently came from a seventh grader who went rogue as soon as she was on the air; instead of asking the question she gave the screener on the phone, she asked, “How many hamsters would fit in a helicopter?”
When on live TV, you just have to roll with whatever comes your way! We established how much room each little creature might need (4-inch cube) and how many cubic feet there might be in a medium sized chopper, (6ft x 3ft x 4ft) and crunched the numbers to get a whopping 5,508 hamsters! My sketch on the whiteboard was pretty crazy, but the caller was happy with the answer and the show went on.
What I have learned from my stint on the show is to relax and go with whatever math comes up; math is fun to think about no matter what size or shape, and having partners in thinking makes it even better!