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It has become a long-standing tradition of sorts in our school, XV. Gimnazija, to host an annual mathematics related event, known as “Večer matematike” or The Math Evening, which is essentially a chance for students with an interest in math to come together and apply mathematics in various fun projects and activities. The entire thing is prepared by the school’s math department and anyone can apply, individually or in groups. Some of the activities include Origami Workshops, a Pub Quiz or an Escape Room. In previous years, the event had taken place in the school, different classrooms having been assigned for different activities. However, with the circumstances and restrictions brought on by this year it was not clear whether it would again take place, and if so – how, given that many of the activities include tangible objects and in person cooperation. However, the school had found a way to maintain the tradition and the event was transferred to an online environment. Admittedly, we had been skeptical at first about whether the quality of the event would be diminished for previously stated reasons. However, this was not the case! We can not speak for all of the activities, but we did participate in the Escape Room so that we can talk about it. The activity was executed with the help of the videoconferencing app Zoom and its Breakout Rooms feature. After applying, we joined a Zoom meeting at a set time, and we were then split into breakout rooms consisting of students that applied as one group. This worked especially well given that we were more motivated by the fact that we could work together with our classmates/friends and not strangers, and that there was enough privacy in breakout rooms to have fun but still understand each other and work together. We were given a link to a website which consisted of slides, each one containing a math related problem or riddle and its solution was necessary to proceed to the next slide. The problem set contained visual and audible elements as well as a storyline which made it very interesting and engaging. We didn’t face any major technical difficulties and “escaped” within an hour. In our opinion, this was time well spent and we think that activities like these should be encouraged in educational institutions everywhere because they have a crucial role in promoting mathematics and logical thinking in a way that is fun and engaging for students of a generation that often views math as “boring” which could not be further from the truth.
Nora Krstulović & Lucija Ražov, XV. gimnazija