It was while he was playing the ever-popular New York Times daily word game Wordle that St. Joseph’s student Steven Silvestri was inspired to create a mathematical version, which he aptly named Numble.
Much like Wordle, Numble players have to fill in the blanks to solve a mathematical equation.
“I believe that gamifying concepts in mathematics is a pathway for students to find joy in a subject that maybe did not appeal to them before,” said Silvestri, who in 2021 earned a B.A. in Mathematics with a Concentration in Adolescence Education from the Long Island Campus. “The main goal of Numble was to allow for a more engaging learning experience for students.”
Silvestri, 23, a permanent mathematics substitute teacher at Eastport South-Manor Junior-Senior High School, achieved that goal. A tutorial video he created for the game has since gained more than 12,300 views on Twitter.
“After sharing Numble via Twitter, the game quickly became noticed by mathematics educators from all around the world,” said Silvestri, who’s pursuing an M.A. in Mathematics Education at the Long Island Campus and expects to graduate this summer.
my kids love this.. they ask me each class…
can we have a break and play numble? pleaseeee!
— mel a (@fungooli) February 19, 2022
Influenced By His Time at St. Joseph’s
Numble was created using GeoGebra, a free open-source web application that allows mathematics educators to create online activities.
“My time spent at St. Joseph’s has played an influential role in my involvement with GeoGebra,” said the Manorville resident, who has created a couple other popular mathematics activities using the software. “About two years ago, I learned of GeoGebra in a graduate course taught by Dr. Donna Pirich. It was in this course that I saw the value that GeoGebra could bring into the classroom.
“I then decided to invest more time into learning more about GeoGebra and its vast capabilities,” Silvestri continued. “I continued to develop my skills in GeoGebra by creating activities relevant to other courses that I was enrolled in at St. Joseph’s.”
Silvestri even developed a small GeoGebra application as part of his undergraduate thesis with Cheyne J. Glass, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and director of undergraduate research at the Long Island Campus. He also hosted a GeoGebra workshop for his classmates during a mathematics education course taught by Jennifer Jones, assistant professor.
“In some ways, I see this next generation of teachers still as my students, still learning and finding their own ways to teach,” said Patricia Kolodnicki, Ed.D., a St. Jospeh’s education lecturer who had Silvestri in her EDU 473 course this past fall semester. “At the same time, I have seen years’ worth of student teachers come out of St. Joseph’s, and they just impress me every semester! Their drive and their determination to help students be successful in math is inspiring and infectious.
“Numble is a way to make math more approachable and fun without having the fear of making a mistake or getting the wrong answer,” continued Dr. Kolodnicki, who’s enjoying the game herself. “Guessing and working through the logic of the game is the fun part!”
— Pᴀᴛᴛʏ Kᴏʟᴏᴅɴɪᴄᴋɪ Eᴅ.D. (@DrKnicki) February 9, 2022
Making a Positive Impact With a Math Game
Mathematics appealed to Silvestri throughout his adolescent years, he said.
“Given an unsolved problem, whether in a textbook or in real-life, I am driven to lead a team aimed at finding a solution,” Silvestri explained.
His desire to help others led to his current profession.
“An unrivaled aspect of teaching mathematics is the opportunity to help and positively impact others,” Silvestri said. “In my opinion, there is no greater reward than witnessing the influence of your contribution on another’s academic and personal growth. The profession of teaching is not simply to relay information — to teach is to cultivate knowledge and creativity, to instill confidence and resilience, to model leadership, to foster aspirations and to inspire growth.”
To see his creation helping other math teachers make a difference in their classrooms is beyond rewarding for Silvestri.
“It felt awesome to scroll through Twitter and to see the game played by so many people, with captions written in various different languages,” Silvestri said.
— Heidi 💎 (@8yorkshire) February 14, 2022