Math for Coffee Lovers

“Ms. Forrest, what do systems of equations have to do with anything outside of our math class?” “When will I ever use this math?”. These are not uncommon questions in a middle school class. My typical response is, “Well students I am glad you asked!”  To make our most recent chapter have meaning to our 8th graders I brought in something I know they like. It is not an unusual sight to see students show up to school with Starbucks cups and treats in the morning or walk into any teacher’s classroom and you are likely to find some coffee, usually a venti! So we combined our study of systems of linear equations and coffee to get some answers!

After our chapter on systems of linear equations we were curious to see if it would be better to purchase a Keurig machine and make your own coffee at home or stick with the convenience of a Starbucks trip. We took the real life Starbucks order of some of our middle school teachers and the cost of purchasing supplies at a grocery store to make that drink with a Keurig machine and started collecting data. Students calculated the cost of tax on the items and the machine and came up with a cost equation for both Starbucks and Keurig per cup of coffee. They tracked these relationships of a cup of coffee a day on a graph over the span of three years. Our results were confirmed using substitution and elimination. 

Our data overwhelmingly showed that if we are looking at our coffee addiction from a financial standpoint Keurig is the way to go after about 3 months. However, most students agreed they love the menu options and convenience of a Starbucks coffee! We were able to take this strategy and see how it applies to business in the real world and comparison of cost effectiveness. Math really is EVERYWHERE!

Caitlyn Forrest, Middle School Math

Presidents in the Making

Throughout the month of February, second grade has been spending a lot of time learning about important people in our history.  We began by writing in-class reports on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, which enhanced both their writing skills and their understanding of our country’s past.  Now, they are working diligently on their own reports on an important American of their choice.  But we still have more important Americans to honor: them!  Over the course of the next week or two, the students of second grade will get to share what they would do as president of the United States, and consider what it be like if they were the ones sitting in the Oval Office.  They will be asked to consider what would be hard about being president, what they would enjoy, what problems they would solve, and more!  They may be young now, but you never know!  These may be questions they may get to answer for themselves one day!

By: Mrs. Lauren Morner, 2nd grade

Presidential Picture[2]

Natural Selection and Adaptations Explored Using STEAM

Have you ever wondered what might happen to a bird species over 20,000 years?  The 8th graders explored this idea in science while studying natural selection .  First, students learned the concepts of existence, diversity, extinction, anatomy, genetic variations, mutations, survival, reproduction, traits, predominance, suppression, adaptations, and natural selection.  Once they were confident in their understanding, they chose a bird specie and researched it. From this foundation, creativity was unleashed, synthesis took place, and depth of understanding was showcased.

Students had to envision realistic changes and adaptations that could take place with their bird over 20,000 years to enable it to survive and thrive.   Students drew 2 dimensional drawings of the way their bird would look in the future along with the habitat it would live in. They also used the 3D CAD design tool Tinkercad to design a functional  beak. Once the beaks were printed, students video recorded the testing process of their beak trying to pick up the intended food source. Students created the background production of their project using a green screen app by Do Ink.  They used their two 2D drawings along with the video of their beak test to create the three layer background.  

When students were satisfied with the three layers of their background production, they pulled the footage into iMovie.  Here they synthesized the story of their bird specie from the present to the year 22,020 using realistic and deep explanations rich in factual scientific vocabulary.  This science project gave the 8th graders the opportunity to explore an interest (each chose their own bird specie) to gain knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, evaluation and creativity of the science behind natural selection and adaptations.

MS 8th Grade Science Teacher  Laura Kruse

Dancing Days!

Dancing Days were here again

For the St. John’s Middle School girls.

Crazy ways were evident

With the hip hop moves and swirls.

I said it’s alright

You know it’s alright …


But before we get in trouble with Led Zepplin for stealing their lyrics, we should get back to the blog information.  6th, 7th and 8th grade girls PE finished our dance unit. We had all kinds of fun – we stayed active, and we even learned some things along the way.  

This 3-week “mini unit” is always welcomed with great anticipation by the girls.  8th graders choose their own (appropriate) music for their dance routine, and they also have the privilege of choosing the music that the 6th and 7th grade groups will use in their routines.

Each group (ranging from 3 to 7 girls) was required to include four specific dance moves in their routine.  They all did this well – check out the videos.

Mrs. VB, PE & ELA8

Real World Math

“When are we ever going to use this math?”, “Where do you actually see this math in the world?”. As a math teacher these are the sayings you get from many middle school students. To take math from the pages of our textbook into their daily lives and give it application to careers the 7th grade students completed two projects. 

What better object to tie into math than an Apple iPhone. 7th grade honors math looked at the cost of an iPhone versus the cost of manufacturing to see how percent markup works and affects our lives. The results were quite shocking for some of them! They were fascinated to see how the percent markup has changed with different models of the iPhone. Conversations of supply and demand arose as many talked about waiting to buy newer models or the advancement of technology causing phones to last longer.

Meanwhile the 7th grade math classes looked at what goes into creating an enlarged image. Many of the students who have taken our art class elective have used grids to enlarge images but we looked at the math behind it all. Students got to choose a candy they wanted to enlarge. Using ratios of the candy wrapper to the size paper they would enlarge on they came up with their scale factor. From there they drew their grid and began the process of recreating proportional. They got to see how important it is to be precise and use rulers accurately. Students saw how computation mistakes would throw off their scale factor and the importance of having a strong number sense. It was one tastiest math project!

Ms. Forrest, Middle School Math