Norma Boakes, of Mays Landing, has years of data showing that origami improves students’ spatial reasoning skills, and makes math class more enjoyable. Now, she is training teachers in developing countries to use the ancient art of paper-folding as an inexpensive way to improve outcomes.

The associate professor of education at Richard Stockton College in Galloway Township just returned from Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho, in Africa. She spent a week there working with secondary school teachers.

In addition to lack of resources, they face some of the same problems as teachers in the United States, she said.

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“Kids can find math boring, and they struggle with the concepts,” said Boakes, 41.

She first used origami as a motivational tool while teaching math years ago at Absegami and Oakcrest high schools. She did her doctoral dissertation on origami in the middle-school math classroom, and found that it didn’t harm grades to spend time on origami, while it improved student engagement.

At Stockton, she created a course called “The Art and Math of Origami,” and has several years of data showing that students experience significant improvement in spatial abilities from the start to the end of the class, she said.

Origami has practical applications. Physicist and engineer Robert Lang, now a full-time origamist, used it to design a satellite that could be sent into space as a compact piece, then expand in orbit, she said.

Boakes has two sons, Ean, 8; and Matthew, 11, who have learned to make “very fancy origami airplanes,” she said.

New Cape Regional trustee

Dr. Richard Michner has joined the Cape Regional Health System Board of Trustees, said Henry Brzyski, chairman of the Cape Regional Health System.

Michner has been a member of the medical staff at Cape Regional Medical Center since 1984 and is in private practice in Cape May Court House. He also serves as the co-medical director of the Prenatal Clinic at Complete Care Health Center.

Basketball clinic in Millville

“Big Al” Szolack, a former pro basketball player for the Washington Generals, the chief rival of the Harlem Globetrotters; and former substance-abuse coordinator in Hammonton schools, will conduct a free basketball clinic for boys and girls ages 8-14. The clinic will be held at Lakeside Middle School in Millville from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 28. Szolack also will present his “Do Hugs, Not Drugs” talk.

Call 856-293-0100 or email for a registration form, which must be returned by Aug. 27.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


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