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

5th Grade Problem Solvers

The 5th graders were presented with a real-world problem and challenged with the task of finding a solution to the problem by using the engineering design process.  The problem? Work in small groups to redesign the front of school to improve the areas where students are dropped off and picked up before and after school. They were given almost unlimited options. The only limit was that they could not move buildings.

The students created a detailed map that outlined their plans which they presented to their classmates at the end of the project. There were many great solutions, including adding turn lanes on Almond and Shaffer streets, creating a pedestrian walkway over Shaffer street, using Moreland Drive as a pick-up area, and adding a stoplight at the intersection of Almond and Shaffer to help with traffic flow. It is always fascinating to see these young minds create awesome solutions to the challenges they are given, especially one that we experience on a daily basis.

By: Mr. Duport, 5th Grade

Road to the American Revolution

Our fifth graders had the opportunity to experience life as a colonist in the 1700s through some exciting interactive activities.  Through a role-playing activity our students were emersed in a colonial simulation. The students had a unique hand experience to better understand how the colonists felt about the taxes bestowed upon them by the King and British Parliament; “No taxation without Representation”.

The second activity the students engaged in was an interactive app. The game immerses the students in a colonial setting and empowers them to make choices that show how colonists experienced the time leading up to the Revolution. It puts students in the shoes of a young printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. As the students navigate the city and complete the tasks, they encounter loyalists and patriots living and working there and receive a better idea of how each side felt about the British in Boston. These interactions were helpful to show how tensions were mounting which ultimately led to the Boston Massacre.

The students were anxious to participate in these unique early colonial experiences. Learning about history can be informative and FUN!

By: Mrs. Schirrmacher, 5th grade

Middle School Elective: S.T.E.A.M.I.S.A.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics Interactive Simulation Activities is a new elective class offered to middle school students. An objective of this class is to spark the interest of students by encouraging them to think broadly, participate and contribute in activities by integrating the five named subject areas.  One such opportunity occurred this fall when 7th graders combined the skills of Science (motion), Technology (iPads), Engineering (animation) and Arts (story telling) to produce their own cartoon using the App Toontastic. 

Students developed an original story and then self-created their own visually appealing animation and narration to tell their story as a cartoon.  This S.T.E.A.M. activity certainly did not disappoint when it came to seeing students using their own initiative, creativity and innovative productivity!

See their work!

Read Across America Day 

Last Monday, March 2nd, we celebrated Read Across America Day. Our day was filled with lots of fun STEM type activities to help us connect with some of our favorite Dr. Seuss books. Dr. Hollatz started us off by reading The Foot Booksince we were all wearing crazy socks. We practiced skip counting to find out the number of girls’, boys’, and adults’ feet we have in our class. We talked about taking care of our earth after we read The Loraxthen balanced pom poms on top of Truffula trees we’d made. Fair treatment for all was our topic after hearing Yertle the Turtlethen stacked as many turtles as we could. Everyone had a chance to work together to stack 100 read cups to represent a giant hat after we read The Cat in the Hat. We ended our special day with two cool gifts to take home. Everyone got to choose a Dr. Seuss eraser and pencil! Oh the thinks you can think!! 

By: Mrs. Cook, 1st Grade

From sea to shining sea, American schools celebrated “Read Across America”  this week.  St. John’s Lutheran School was no exception.  In every classroom, teachers discussed their own favorite, age-appropriate books during informal book talks.  Students, therefore, were exposed to unfamiliar books, prompting many to jot down titles and authors on cards provided by their teachers. Teachers also provided a “free reading” period of time in their teaching schedules, further emphasizing the enjoyment and creative stimulation that reading for pleasure can provide.  Students gratefully took advantage of their teachers’ gift of reading time.

By far, the favorite part of our SJLS “Read Across America” activities was the costume choice that many students (and some brave teachers!) made to honor a favorite literary character.  The halls were filled with min-Harry Potters, junior-Where’s Waldos, and faux-Dr. Seuss characters.  Discussions and laughter overflowed on campus, as students attempted to guess their peers’ literary characters.

Students focused on reading.  People wore costumes.  Laughter erupted.  All told, the day was a complete success. Oh, the places we went!

By: Mr. Smith, 7th grade