A middle school math class is challenging students to solve a real world problem by having sixth graders clean up a pretend oil spill.
At Heritage Middle School, students in Christina Jackson’s math class are studying area and measurement as part of a requirement for proposals to clean up an oil spill in the ocean. Students used aerial views of a pretend spill, and then needed to determine how much of a chemically treated wood sponge would be needed to clean up the oil.
The students reorganized the spill area into triangles, rectangles, squares and quadrilaterals, and calculate the size by converting centimeters to miles. Once the teams completed calculations, they presented and defended them to the other students.
It is important to Jackson that the thinking process behind the work is exploring math and making use of ideas. “Where in life will you need this information?” is the question for her students.
Jackson says that these are the skills that will be necessary for building a house or a swimming pool. One of the students said that area calculations would be important for a pilot approaching a runway. Also, if a student was interested in architecture, area would be important for their work and design.