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Rebecca Klemm

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A place for every number: design; create; and communicate.

Building the Town of NumberOpolis!

Washington, DC, USA
Imagination, global numeric linkages and recycled materials encourage students to experiment with math on their own terms. The multi-disciplinary one-day to full-year engaging program alleviates math anxiety and sparks critical thinking. Its flexibility ignites collaboration with STEM/STEAM programs, as per the film series, The Travelling Numbers Show and designing a learning environment.

What is Building the Town of NumberOpolis!?

Rebecca Klemm, PhD, Founder of NumbersAlive! and the NumbersAlive! Foundation
“Building a house for a number allows students to think creatively both when designing and then communicating their ideas, numerical knowledge and global connections.”

Rebecca Klemm, PhD, Founder of NumbersAlive! and the NumbersAlive! Foundation

I developed Building the Town of NumberOpolis! to make mathematics meaningful and alleviate math anxiety that often depresses the ability to learn the value of mathematics.  

Students design an entire town with numbers 0-9, and/or higher-level math and science constants. This program will require about 5-30 one-hour class periods depending on student age and extent of collaboration with other STEM/STEAM programs. The program enhances cognitive thinking and provides students with opportunities to think of mathematics as world patterns, linking it to all areas of life. In addition, the program integrates their imagination with nonstandard shapes—an important aspect of applying mathematics in future endeavors and careers. 

An overall “urban plan” incorporating all created number houses and associated common areas, can be included depending on time restrictions.  Teachers, older students or an extra team may be needed to prepare an overall urban or country plan.

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Innovation Overview
3 - 18
Age Group
1 100
Tips for implementation
This program encourages the use of recyclable materials: toner cartridge packaging, coffee cup "sleeves" toilet paper rolls, fabric, stickers, blocks/sticks, ribbons, cotton balls, etc. so students have many objects to use when building.
Contact information
Rebecca Klemm

See this innovation in action

Banner to invite audience to the DC Maker Faire to Build the Town of NumberOpolis!
9 and 3 showing graphically the relationship between square and square root
Learners busy putting the clock puzzle together
Middle School puzzle of 6 hexagons creating a single regular hexagon
Puzzle island NumberOpolis!
Cinco de Mayo trailer featuring guest, Cinco and students of Youngblood Intermediate School
Episode 7, featuring Special Guest, Pi
Episode 6, with Special Guests e and Number 4


Achievements & Awards


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Introductory Summary and Visualization of Numbers 0-9
We have a package of materials: 1. Short description display for unstructured/structured public events 2. Meet Team Ten Visually slideshow to inspire creation and numeric linkages
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Number Photo Walk/Number Scavenger Hunt
Have groups of 1 or more children select a number to make and then take with them on a short walk in the neighborhood. Take pictures or draw numeric representations found and make a group book or number mobile. Can be executed with caregivers and children depending on the age of the children.
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Adaptable Teacher Guide
The attached pdf document can be adapted to conform to educational requirements. All teachers or groups wanting to Build a Town of NumberOpolis! should feel to contact Dr. Klemm for help designing lessons, assessment, student materials and procedures consistent with local requirements.
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Foundational Math Concepts Through Number Links
The attached powerpoint integrates visual numbers with text and additional pictures of historic interaction with NumbersAlive!
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