Curious Edge — If I Had a Hammer: Hands-On Math Education Program

By Dana Stefaniak

On a recent school day at Lansdowne Elementary, The Curious Edge Founder Kimberly Hudson was swinging a hammer alongside fifth grade students as part of their math curriculum.

They were building a house in their gymnasium as the finale to their “If I Had A Hammer” mathematics program that teaches math in a new way.

The STEM-focused program is designed to help students build a strong foundation of understanding through teamwork, creativity and real-life application.

“I heard about this program that was teaching children in a different way and I wanted to see it first hand,” Hudson said. “When I learned its creator Perry Wilson has dyslexia, I knew I had to meet him and see this program in action.

“I am passionate in my belief that all children learn differently, and Perry created this program because he believes that as well. He is a shining example of individuals with dyslexia becoming successful entrepreneurs.”

When Wilson of Nashville was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 24, it answered many questions for him. Despite a supportive family, his educational experience was a struggle.

He failed the fifth grade, but instead of his dad getting angry,  they built a tree house together. The sense of accomplishment overshadowed his feelings of failure.

School continued to be difficult for Wilson, but his love of carpentry stayed with him. As he became a master carpenter, he discovered a tangible application for math.

Wilson then created “If I Had A Hammer.” At the center of this innovative, hands-on math curriculum is a patented math manipulative called “The Big Inch.” This combines measurement and fractions while allowing students to physically apply the algorithms of fractions.

In two decades, Perry’s program has served more than 1 million school children across the nation. His struggles with dyslexia and learning inspired him to create the program.

The Curious Edge is now using Perry’s program to help students who are struggling in math.

“I had to learn to be fearless and recognize that I had a different way of looking at things,” Wilson said. “I call it seeing things my natural dyslexic way, and it is almost like I see in 3D. “My dyslexia has truly been a gift.”

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