Math Talks with Braeden: Investigations Matter

Today, I pulled into my parent’s driveway and was immediately met at my car by my nephew smiling ear to ear. He was so excited because he heard something that he did not agree with in school and rushed home to test his theory…(his words)

Below is the conversation that we had.

B: Guess what Auntie, my teacher wasn’t so perfect today!

Me: What happened?

B: Well today she was telling us about horizontal symmetry, vertical symmetry and diagonal symmetry and she said that an oval had diagonal symmetry and it doesn’t.

tacoMe: Really? How do you know?

B: Well, I drew one, cut it out and folded it and it looks like a messed up taco! I also made a circle. It has symmetry. See! (shows me his cut outs)

Me: Braeden, did you show this to your teacher?

B: No, she wouldn’t listen. She told me that I was wrong when I said that an oval didn’t have diagonal symmetry and all of the kids said that I was wrong. I think that they were thinking of the letter “o” since it’s a circle.

Me: That’s interesting. Why do think that?

B: Well, the circle has symmetry everywhere as long as you fold it down the middle. You know what, maybe they were confused with congruence.

Me: (I had no idea that he knew this word) Please explain this!

B: Well, if you cut the oval in a diagonal and flip the pieces around, they are congruent. That’s not the same as symmetry because you had to flip it. (He then proceeds to show me!)

Me: (After smiles, hugs and fist pumps) Braeden, did you come home and do this?

B: Yes I did. I thought about it all day and I came home to test it out and I was right. I’m so happy auntie. I made this too…

He then turned on his ipad and showed me what he created using Geometry Pad, a digital confirmation of his theory.


What I learned: Never underestimate a kid who thrives on creative investigation. (Truthfully, I knew this already)

I have to wonder how different that lesson would have been had those children been able to investigate this in class. What kind of conversations could they have had? While I am not happy with his school lecture and complete ignoring of his questions, I am so proud that this kid has it in him to come home and test things out. His face lit up just as bright as if he were sewing puppets or molding clay.

When we deny kids the right to be inquisitive, to develop their own understanding…we are robbing them of the ability to truly understand.


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