Everyone has fun when creative high school students teach 5th grade math.
One Friday morning a group of fifth graders were cheering their little derby cars to victory as they raced down a makeshift ramp on Friday morning. The exercise at Cunningham School was part of a three-day lesson in math and physics taught by junior Christian Schober, senior Caleb Schober and sophomore Cade Johnson at Beloit Memorial High School.
Fourteen groups, or a total of 46 students, in math teacher Deb Prowse’s AP Calculus class have designed interactive activities to teach younger students about math. Projects have ranged from the racing cars to using M&M’s to determine percentages and using musical notes to learn about fractions. The 14 projects have been researched, practiced and are now being taken to a variety of classes and grade levels in the district.
Caleb Schober explained how his team built a ramp with a 45-degree angle and found little plastic cars they filled with little weights. There were quite a few challenges even before the lesson began as they had to construct the ramp twice, and even had to burn out the previously existing motors in the derby cars which would have thrown the experiment off.
But by Wednesday the AP Calculus students were ready to teach physics equations to the fifth graders. On Thursday students tried their luck racing the cars after strategically placing the weights on the cars. The students were going to return for one last lesson on Friday about what math concepts the students will need to know in the future.
“We are trying to build interest in math,” Caleb said.
Caleb, Christian and Cade said they were surprised with how advanced the Cunningham students were, already grasping algebra and trigonometry concepts. One girl, they said, was able to do the physics equations in her head.
“These kids are smart, they caught on right away,” Christian said