The development philosophy of MathScape centers around the belief that mathematics is inextricably linked to the human experience. Humans use mathematics to explore their surroundings, build structures and communities, and to seek to understand the world around them. The MathScape curriculum provides meaningful mathematical investigations that allow students to experience these different uses of mathematics and, in so doing, to build mathematical competence
The MathScape curriculum reflects the following principles about mathematics:
A good mathematician can fuse pieces of content knowledge in creative ways to arrive at mathematical results. Mathematicians develop habits of mind such as abstracting essential elements from situations and seeking patterns and relations; mathematicians who have developed habits of mind have an intuitive sense for how to approach new problems. MathScape activities aim to develop productive habits of mind in students; all activities are designed to get students to think critically and creatively about mathematical topics.
Almost all MathScape activities are set in a context meant to make the mathematics more meaningful for students; many contexts are large-scale and extend through an entire unit, while others are on a smaller scale. For example, in Gulliver’s Worlds, a sixth-grade unit, students examine measurement and scaling as they visit the lands of giants and tiny people. To facilitate forging connections across disciplines, each teacher guide contains a page with pointers to resources that can be used to link the context of the unit to other disciplines.
MathScape attempts to make these connections apparent to students in two ways:
Mathematics is not a series of procedural questions students must answer; rather, mathematics has an underlying structure about which questions can be asked. MathScape frames activities to leave room for students to wonder about their own mathematical questions. For example, in The Language of Numbers, a sixth-grade unit, students construct their own number system. After thinking about some specific questions related to what their number system can do, students are asked to pose their own questions about their number systems and number systems in general.