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Contending that the myths parents hold about mathematics may contribute to poor performance in the subject, the National pta has created materials designed to encourage parents to help their children build math skills.

Developed by the Mathematical Sciences Education Board of the National Academy of Sciences and funded by the Exxon Educational Foundation, the package includes a solar-powered calculator, a brochure outlining activities parents and children can perform, and a videotape.

"Many parents are part of the problem because of their unfounded beliefs that math isn't necessary or that not every student can be expected to be good at math," said Ann P. Kahn, a former president of the pta and director of the project.

The materials were distributed last week to 26,000 local parent-teacher groups and the 1,400 members of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics.


In an effort to promote instruction in U.S. history, the Smithsonian Institution has produced curriculum kits on the history of "the American office."

The kits, part of a project sponsored by Brother International Corporation, the Somerset, N.J., electronics firm, have been distributed to some 100,000 students in 4,500 high schools. The project also includes a contest in which students design their vision of the office of the year 2000.

The curriculum kit, "Carbons to Computers," encourages students to examine archival materials, look at historical artifacts, and conduct field interviews to study changes in technology and national culture from 1830 to the present.

"We chose the history of the American office and its technological artifacts because these subjects are more familiar and accessible to students, yet they're also rich in historical lessons," said Michelle Smith, the program's author.


To help enhance elementary and secondary teachers' knowledge of American art, the National Gallery of Art has created summer institutes to train teachers in aesthetics and art history.

The three six-day institutes, which can accommodate up to 50 teachers each, will begin this summer. Developed in conjunction with the National Art Education Association, the institutes will be funded by Binney and Smith Inc., the manufacturers of Crayola crayons and Liquitex art supplies.

"We hope to draw both art teachers who want historical and cultural information about American art, and history teachers who want to expand their knowledge of art of the period from 1700 to 1900," said Julie A. Springer, coordinator of teacher programs for the National Gallery.--rr

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