Hailstones and a Growth Mindset: DaVinci Algebra Students Sample YouCubed Inspirational Math

Recently middle school students in the Mount Madonna School (MMS) DaVinci Algebra class took a break from linear functions to try three cutting-edge math workshops. Professor Jo Boaler of mathematics education at Stanford University created the curriculum, called YouCubed Inspirational Math, with the purpose of taking the latest research on math education and turning it into engaging lessons for students.

Each lesson begins with a short video encouraging students to reflect on their own mathematical mindset. The videos aim to remove obstacles to confidence in math. If a student is carrying a thought that is not useful to them in math such as “I’m never going to be good at this,” “I’m too slow,” or “I’m so good at this I don’t need to work,” the discussions and videos in YouCubed lessons try to change the story. Then, students are asked to wrestle with challenging classical problems that allow many approaches.

YouCubed was first developed for use in middle school and was tested as week-long math summer camp programs. Like the experience of the summer camp participants, MMS students found that the problems were actually engaging, challenging, and fun. The students began as a class group with visual math problems showing them that almost everyone has a different entry or approach to solving a new type of math challenge. Each day they broke into different small groups to work through the problems, one of which is a major unsolved mathematical challenge known as Hailstone sequences and the Collatz conjecture.

DaVinci Algebra is a high-school level course integrating fine art and Algebra I. It uses a traditional Algebra I textbook, but also includes fine arts technique projects that require the use of algebraic problem solving. At MMS it is offered in eighth grade. The course was designed by a consortium of college-prep teachers for the University of California’s Curriculum Integration program and was adopted by MMS last year. Fifteen percent of the time in class is left open for devoting to cutting-edge math education such as YouCubed.

For more information:

TED Talk with Dr. Jo Boaler



By Lisa Catterall


 Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications, [email protected]

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville