Making Every Number Count: The Colorful World Of Numbersalive! (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

Making Every Number Count: The Colorful World of NumbersAlive!

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:42:34
Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir. And with the new school year on its way, this week we're hitting the books and bringing you a bunch of stories and interviews about education and learning. From reading to writing to, as we're about to hear, arithmetic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER 1

13:42:49
We have me in front, you cannot begin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER 2

13:42:51
Would you listen to the ego on her?

1

13:42:54
I was versed through civilization and you're going to run. I'm truly the best.

SHEIR

13:42:59
Well, not arithmetic so much as just good old-fashioned numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER 3

13:43:02
She is number one.

2

13:43:04
She's just a big pest.

SHEIR

13:43:06
Okay. Some rather quarrelsome numbers perhaps, but they eventually learn every one of them counts in Cooking Up Numbers, an educational musical romp from the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival. It was the brainchild of Rebecca Klemm. She's a statistician and math teacher.

MS. REBECCA KLEMM

13:43:22
I've always been sort of a math geek.

SHEIR

13:43:23
Who's taking the cuddly singing numbers from the show.

KLEMM

13:43:26
The 10 numbers are Team 10 and they each have characters.

SHEIR

13:43:29
And making them the stars of "NumbersAlive," a brand she hopes will teach children the importance of numbers.

KLEMM

13:43:36
It's all one of my crazy ideas to teach numbers through elements.

SHEIR

13:43:40
Is that so crazy?

KLEMM

13:43:41
No, well, I'm the only one -- I mean, it's my idea. I don't think it's crazy at all, but they're supposed to be fun and engaging and you learn from them by connecting with them.

SHEIR

13:43:51
I meet Rebecca Klemm in her studio in D.C.'s Penn Quarter where the "NumbersAlive" team is hard at work. Klemm's enlisted local designers to create a colorful set of plush Team 10 toys.

KLEMM

13:44:01
But they're not just toys. They are to learn about yourself, the world and the relevance of math.

SHEIR

13:44:08
She's also locally publishing a series of picture books in which Team 10 shows how numbers apply in culture, history, architecture, even Shakespeare.

KLEMM

13:44:17
So, for example, so far, this is really in sketching areas until we work on it. Seven would talk about, as you like it, because that's the whole poetry of the seven stages of life, but we'll do that one in Iambic pentameter. So five will lead that.

SHEIR

13:44:29
The first book is called "Team 10 Tours Washington D.C."

KLEMM

13:44:32
I took them around Washington and I said, I don't want just a counting book. I want to show where numbers are relevant in everything you see and you become aware of your surroundings.

SHEIR

13:44:40
So for instance, you have zero leading us to the Hirshhorn Museum

KLEMM

13:44:43
Because if you look at it from the top, it looks like a circle. If you look at it from the side, it looks like an oval like zero is.

SHEIR

13:44:47
One brings us to the Washington Monument.

KLEMM

13:44:49
Because it sort of looks like a one and he was our first president.

SHEIR

13:44:52
Two takes us to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

KLEMM

13:44:55
Because there's two walls and two is the empathy character and also because not only are there two walls, but part of Maya Lin's philosophy was you are giving the names of the people who are deceased, but you also reflect the living. So you have the two sides of life.

SHEIR

13:45:09
And we continue with three, four, five, six, seven, eight, all the way up to nine.

KLEMM

13:45:14
We go to the Supreme Court where there are nine Supreme Court Justices and that's an important nine in the city.

SHEIR

13:45:19
Rebecca Klemm is releasing the first run of the book next month at Arts On Foot, D.C.'s annual festival of arts and food. She's also premiering a film version, which uses handheld puppets and green screens, to take Team 10 on its D.C. tour. And during my visit to the studio...

MR. BARRY GORDIMER

13:45:35
All right. Let's go ahead and roll. We've got enough to roll on here. And action.

SHEIR

13:45:38
I get to sit in as the crew shoots one of the first scenes. In it, Team 10 visits the Lincoln Memorial to get inspiration for places to explore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER

13:45:47
Okay, team, time to march up the steps to the Great Emancipator.

3

13:45:50
Groovy Five.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER 4

13:45:52
Wow, there's lots of steps.

2

13:45:55
Number factoid 57, from the road to the top.

GORDIMER

13:46:02
It's okay if you stop there because this is all in voiceover from this point in this scene.

SHEIR

13:46:08
Barry Gordimer is directing the film. He says "NumbersAlive" is a great way to make numbers less daunting and more, well...

GORDIMER

13:46:15
Fun. Numbers are fun, they're not intimidating. They're okay. They're your friends.

SHEIR

13:46:19
Though in Gordimer's case, not always.

SHEIR

13:46:23
Are any of the numbers especially difficult to work with?

GORDIMER

13:46:25
I think we're going to have a problem child with two.

SHEIR

13:46:28
What's up with two?

GORDIMER

13:46:29
Two-faced. Sorry.

SHEIR

13:46:31
I insert high hat crash here. Anyway, Andrea Schewe designed the prototype of the "NumbersAlive" plush toys and she says she agrees with Barry Gordimer. Not about two being devilishly duplicitous, but about Team 10 making numbers more enjoyable for kids no matter where they are.

MS. ANDREA SCHEWE

13:46:48
Kids will be able to buy them and play them and make up their own stories and take their numbers to discover different cities. I think Rebecca has the idea to have a website where people can take -- kids can take photographs of their numbers like at the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon and then kids can share online.

KLEMM

13:47:05
Yes, they all can share. It's really relevance of numbers everywhere in the world.

SHEIR

13:47:09
Because, says Rebecca Klemm, numbers are pretty much a universal language, which is why at the end of this first book, Team 10 poses a question.

KLEMM

13:47:18
We've had so much fun touring Washington D.C., where in the world should our next visit be? So you get to lobby in the website where we should go and if we select your place, you get to work with us on the next books and films.

SHEIR

13:47:29
And that collaboration will be paid for out of Klemm's own pocket. While she is applying for a number of grants, right now, she's funding the entire "NumbersAlive" project herself. But she says she doesn't mind. After all, she's helping young people understand and appreciate her beloved numbers and apply them to everyday life and the way this self-declared math geek sees it, that's what really, truly counts.

SHEIR

13:47:56
You can check out "Team 10 Tours Washington D.C.," the book and the movie, at the 19th Annual Arts On Foot, September 10th and 11th. And you can learn some number factoids of your own, like why seven is so popular at the craps table and what makes six the first perfect number on our website, metroconnection.org.
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