Mathematicians are not human calculators. They are observers who learn to see what the untrained eye does not notice. They are questioners whose imaginations probe beneath the surface of things to discover hidden connections. They are thinkers who apply logic to look beyond the obvious. They are artists who create beauty out of thin air.


About 5280 Math

If you visit Denver, you may notice a sign upon entering town that proclaims the elevation to be 5280 feet. 5280 Math is “mile-high” math—challenging math for adventurous learners! Adventurous learners have three important qualities.

  • They are curious.

  • They take risks.

  • They are flexible thinkers.

Some students are naturally talented and/or adventurous. Others can develop these qualities. 5280 Math is for both types of learners and their teachers and families. The focus is on developing deep understanding of challenging math concepts, which enhances the ability to retain, transfer, apply, and appreciate mathematical knowledge. It builds a foundation for long-term success and nurtures a passion for math.

The paragraph at the top of this page expresses how it feels to me to do mathematics. Unfortunately, traditional school math provides a very different experience. I offer the resources on this site in the hope of helping students, teachers, and parents become adventurous mathematicians who appreciate the power and beauty of mathematics—even while they meet goals outlined in school math standards.

The 5280 Math website contains an ever-expanding collection of classroom activities along with tools and strategies to support teachers' work. There are sample questions from activities in my Advanced Common Core Math Explorations (ACCME) books for middle school as well as some complete projects for students in elementary, middle, and early high school. Apart from the ACCME books, all resources from 5280 Math are completely free. In addition, you will find suggestions for books and links to websites that support the mathematical growth of adventurous learners.

Finally, you will find information here about professional development, consulting, and speaking services that I offer. See the Consulting page on this site to learn more!

I welcome your input on this site and would love to hear about resources you know of that support these goals. 

About Me

My early teaching career was spent working with college students who had struggled in high school math. I learned from this experience that when students struggle with mathematics, it is usually due a lack of confidence and unrealistic beliefs about what math is and how we learn it. I discovered that virtually any student with the proper support, sufficient time, and some determination is able to achieve mathematical understanding.

For twenty years or so, my professional life centered around teaching math to talented elementary and middle school students. I learned that in order to teach math well, I need first to understand how students are thinking and then to help them learn to think for themselves.  

For about eight or nine years now, I have applied the knowledge gained from my classroom teaching experience to create rich and challenging mathematical activities for elementary and middle school students. I have shared these materials with teachers and parents, trained and coached elementary and middle school math teachers, and spoken at conferences around the country. I have written a series of books, Advanced Common Core Math Explorationsfor Prufrock Press to provide engaging and meaningful mathematical challenges for middle school students and teachers. I am now working directly with schools and districts to build depth and challenge into programming and instruction for talented and adventurous math students. (To learn more about this, please see the Consulting tab on the menu above.)

In my free time, I love to read, hike, and play piano. I have an adult daughter and son who are the joys of my life. I lived and worked in Minnesota for many years and have recently returned to my original home state of Colorado.

Jerry Burkhart


I believe...

  • Everyone can understand and enjoy math.
    Math is the study of patterns. It involves creativity and imagination as well as logic and skill.

  • Meaningful mathematical learning occurs gradually over time.
    We learn math not by memorizing but by making sense of it and building on what we already understand.

  • Teaching math involves learning with students.
    We teach math by asking questions, listening to students, and helping them learn to think for themselves.