IT FIGURES

 

AIT provides this Educational Math program geared towards 4th graders. 28 episodes in all. Stories would take place all over the place, such as on the farm, in a city neighbourhood, at the school. Reoccuring characters would be seen. Each episode was 15 minutes and would contain within it - a short cartoon relating to the topic of the day but using a twist on the storyline of a literary classic - ie Humpty Dumpty, Snow White, etc.

Each introduced real-life situations involving math concepts that can, at times, prove difficult. Often a child would get caught in the problem and not come out successfully, but experience would prove the best teacher.

Capsizing the information taught in each program was a cartoon sequence by the same talents who had enlivened Eureka! These cartoons, most often, provided previews of what would follow in the live-action sequence to follow.

It Figures was produced in six locations involving seven groups of children. Included were:
• In rural New Jersey: Houston Tally, a boy who is just starting to learn the basics
• Along the Chesapeake Bay: The Pirates, a fourth-grade club finding out visuals and prediction skills
• In urban New Jersey: The Vulcans, also of advanced mathematical knowledge
• In Illinois: Schoolkids who are learning and applying the basics of division and fractions
• In Los Angeles: Kaylin and Chenetta, whose adventures involve visualizing problems
• In South Carolina: The Fourth Street Players, who need to visualize problems to make sense of them
• In Las Vegas: Ned and Jessica, avid swimmers in the sunnier part of town

 

EPISODE GUIDE

1. Deciding When to Use Subtraction - It's October, Houston Tally, a boy living in a New Jersey farm town, wants a rabbit he calls "Harvey." To win the rabbit, he has to collect more aluminum cans than anyone else in his class. Houston knows he doesn't have enough cans yet, but he gets confused with the question, "How many more cans?" His brother has to teach him that "more" is actually a key word that tells one to subtract, not add.

2. Deciding How Close to Measure -
A beautiful day in the South Carolina woods is the perfect backdrop for a treehouse. To build it, though, a group of kids had to undergo trial-and-error methods of measurement. Even when they used a ruler, they could still get things wrong, such as spacing the rungs on their ladder.

3. Problem Solving—Acting It Out -
A group of intermediate school kids have been named to a committee that has spelled out rules for a relay race. It seems that, at face value, no one can win the race by following the rules. When the kids practice the race with cricket mallets, they discover the loophole that will allow one of them to win the race. Some dramatic racing action at the end of this episode.

4. Using Estimation -
Houston wishes to enter his rabbit at the local fair. But can he and his brother attend the fair, given the chores they have to finish? Both of them budget their time and, with their chores finished, can attend the fair. Once at the fair, Houston rations his money, buying only an elephant ear and a large root beer before the judging starts. He hopes "Harvey," his rabbit, can win one award, but he winds up with another. (An Elephant Ear must be a local treat)

5. Understanding Place Value -
In making a batch of cookies, Kaylin feels she doesn't have enough of one ingredient. She multiplies everything in the recipe by ten, and ends up with 360 cookies. Perhaps Kaylin and her friend can sell these cookies at the steps of their school. When the time comes to photocopy their print ad, Kaylin unknowingly increases the print volume from 12 copies to about 100. Now she knows that putting any digit to the right of a number, increases the value of the whole number (by at least ten). Good thing the house was well stocked with 10 times the ingredients for everything!

6. Deciding When to Use Multiplication -
Houston has difficulties with his after-school job at the rabbitry. When his brother tells him to use multiplication at certain times to deal with equal groups, Houston seems to understand. The real problem comes when Houston doesn't deal with the unequal groups correctly.

7. Using Fractions - At a summer camp in Illinois, Cliff and his three roommates have to split up their space. They use a string (in lieu of a ruler) to divide the closet, the drawers, and the top of a dresser. When everyone goes camping, one of them brings the string along, just in case. A cake is eaten in this episode and their is a horrendous editing error. From one angle the cake is cut thru some letters, from the other angle it isn't even close!

8. Problem Solving—Drawing a Picture -
Which of the five schoolkids will be represented at a city basketball showdown? Naima and Ingrid are not happy with a four-game or five-game format of one-on-ones, so they devise a fairer system of ten games. The round robin system where everybody plays everybody once is used.

9. Looking at Objects from Different Positions - After a police chase, Kaylin informs Chenetta that a folder was dropped on the street next to a square object. They go to the street level, but can't find the square. Only from Kaylin's apartment does Chenetta discover how an object appears to change shape, depending on your point of view. This is extremely inportant for the police, who are trying to recover a museum artifact.

10. Using Mental Computation - Naima and Kevin are members of the Vulcans, a kids' club saving money to buy artifacts for their clubhouse. Both Kevin and Naima get pressed into quick addition, and learn there are ways to quickly add two large numbers and get an exact answer.

11. Using Division - Cliff, Roger and their friends are organizing a garage sale. Knowing about division comes in handy at the right times.

12. Problem Solving—Making a Table - George is a professional swimmer in the eyes of youngsters Ned and Jessica. When the school holds swim meets to see who will join the team, both Ned and Jessica need to keep track of how much they swim each day. George's answer: make a table. George also challenges the youngsters to look after his paper route and decide how they would like to get paid. Ned isn't happy at the end of this episode.

13. Using Multiplication and Addition -
The Fourth Street Regulars, first seen in the second episode, hold a candy sale and barbeque. They want to get a Ping-Pong table for the community centre. In tabulating their sales, they discover multiplication can sometimes be used when the situation calls for addition. They play some mini-golf at the end of this episode.

14. Relating Fractions and Decimals - In the grand tradition of the Fourth Street Regulars in South Carolina and the Vulcans in New Jersey, some kids in Baltimore's Inner Harbor have formed a group called the Pirates. David wants to join them, but he'll have to undergo an initiation. The notes David finds in his initiation help teach him how decimals can be converted to fractions. Doing math to join a gang - now that's my kind of club!

15. Predicting Your Change - The Vulcans are collecting dues toward another purchase. After lunch at a diner, George intends to loan 20¢ so Kevin can pay his dues. But George has only 19¢ in change. George had predicted his change beforehand, so he knows to go back to the diner and get the right coinage after being short-changed.

16. Using Bar Graphs - Linda is in the hospital and is recovering from a bicycle accident, in which she broke her leg. Her friends, mindful that someone else doesn't get hurt the same way, have prepared a bar graph in their proposal to establish a crosswalk. The group learn what is essential in making a properly labeled graph.

17. Understanding Remainders - Mary has trouble with her division problems. She learns that remainders are not to be taken lightly. It all depends on the situation. There was the 4 plants, 3 girls incident; the 5 sandwiches, 4 friends incident; and the 30 girl guides, 7 cars incident.

18. Problem Solving—Recognizing Necessary Information - Mrs. Murphy sends four of her students on a treasure hunt. She informs them to locate the bits of information that help them, rather than slow them down. If the students can find all the clues in 20 minutes, they'll get the treasure.

19. Finding Equivalent Fractions - Roger is unimpressed with Cliff's interest in fractions. But when both agree to split two pizzas, Cliff tells Roger what fractions are equivalent.

20. Finding Area by Covering -
The Vulcans' clubhouse floor is causing problems. Every time anyone moves, one of the floppy floor tiles gives out. Upon hearing that someone will cut them a rug for their clubhouse floor the Vulcans try to figure out the area of the floor. At first, they put any old objects on the floor and try to rearrange them at the store. Then they hit upon square units.

21. Making Sense of a Big Number - The local school is holding a contest to see who can collect the most bottle caps. Zeke brags that he will collect a hundred thousand bottle caps. Everyone vetoes the idea, since Zeke has no concept of that large a number. He'll learn, once those shoe boxes with five hundred bottle caps each, pile up.

22. Estimating When Dividing - Harvest time means dividing the vegetables Houston, Sally and the others had planted and tended to all spring and summer. The biggest crop is all that squash. When left to divide all the squash among them, Houston doesn't have an estimate on what the correct answer will be. Neither does Sally, as things turn out.

23. Comparing Decimals - Ned is swimming head-to-head with Reggie for the right to go to a regional swim meet. Ned feels he has lost because his time was 42.43 seconds and Reggie's was 42.8 seconds. It's up to George to clarify the two decimal numbers.

24. Using Probability - The Pirates get a lecture on probability when one of them tries to use a two-headed coin. But that coin is part of a contest. A pizza stand is giving away sixty vacations to Florida. All one has to do is spell out PIZZA PARADISE. With a good many duplicate coins, Andy turns some of them in for the pizza company's other probability contest.

25. Changing Scale on a Graph - Neither Kaylin nor Chenetta can do a head stand. To get into shape for it, their gym instructor gives them an exercise. Kaylin and Chenetta do sit-ups for several days and graph their progress. All seems fine, but Kaylin is convinced she's not keeping pace with Chenetta. There is some MAJOR attitude from the gym instructor - when Chenetta says that Kaylin can do it - the instructor sternly says that Kaylin can decide that for herself.

26. Problem Solving: Keep On Trying -
Norm's brother proves his resilience at solving problems such as improving his soccer game and rearranging his room. When they finally decide on how to arrange the room, the bike seems to have disappeared. The wall features pennants from the following NFL teams - Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams - what a strange allegence. Humourous ending when we finally see Ambrose the Cat.

27. Problem Solving: Many Ways to Go - Kaylin and Chenetta run a dog-watching business. But the job is threatened to halt unless the two can manage their time and coordinate schedules more effectively. Kaylin and Chenetta take different approaches to come up with a solution. Not sure how having the dog pull her, as opposed to running - made Chenetta get home in time.

28. Problem Solving: Using a Guide -
Eva relates to her family the time she and a friend were climbing a cliff. When her friend fell and got hurt, he and Eva spelled out a few decisions they could make. When one was tried out and failed, Eva tried another—and succeeded. This process, labeled "Hey Wait!, Think, See, So?" had first been exposed on ThinkAbout, an earlier AIT series. It's up to Andy to exercise his options when, in preparation for a surprise birthday party, he gets locked out of the house. Andy is wearing an Ocean Pacific T-shirt. OP didn't become popular until 1985 or 1986, so he was quite trendy.




 

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