With the school year winding down, teachers are squeezing in every last lesson they can. And Kim Dolan’s third grade math class at Spring Brook Elementary is no different, but the way they are doing things may be unlike you’d expect.
The third graders spent their last math lesson of the 2009-10 school year in the schoolyard, spitting watermelon seeds. Now parents, don’t be alarmed, there was a method to the madness—Spring Brook third grader Brandon Szabo explains.
“We learned about the (median), the range, how far it went,” said Szabo. “Then we had to add, subtract, divide, times, (it was) really fun.”
Mrs. Dolan’s class was learning how averages work, by spitting watermelon seeds, measuring how far they go, and compiling everyone’s best distance to determine the averages, something that isn’t always so easy to grasp for elementary school students.
“This has always been a tough thing for them to manipulate and get in their heads,” said Dolan. “Those statistical landmarks and knowing mean and median and average and range and all that stuff: It’s tough for them so I thought with a cool experience like spitting watermelon seeds they wouldn’t forget it.”
The activity was definitely something that stuck in the heads of Dolan’s class, with the best spitter checking in with a distance of 213 inches.
Lauren Marsh’s best distance was 142 inches, and she says the task isn’t as easy as you would think.
“When you try to spit a watermelon seed, it sticks to your mouth,” said Marsh. When I asked how to fix that, she had a simple solution—“Put it back in your mouth.”
Brandon’s simple solution was also one of technique, saying “Put your head back and go forward and spit.”
So there’s the skinny: If you’re hoping to be the star spitter at your backyard barbecue this summer, and if spitting watermelon seeds is not your thing, you can always take out the tape measure and refresh your knowledge about averages.
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