2017-05-19 / Front Page

Students hit the trail, math trail, that is

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Wentworth third-graders Christopher Coburn and Layton Garriepy use their math skills to determine how many bananas are in a pound at Hannaford during the first Scarborough Community Math Trail Field Trip Wednesday, May 10. Students also visited banks, businesses and town offices as part of the field trip. (Courtesy photo) Wentworth third-graders Christopher Coburn and Layton Garriepy use their math skills to determine how many bananas are in a pound at Hannaford during the first Scarborough Community Math Trail Field Trip Wednesday, May 10. Students also visited banks, businesses and town offices as part of the field trip. (Courtesy photo) Students from Wentworth School took a tour of Scarborough last week, but it was less about the sites to see, than the 1-2-3s.

On May 10, 90 students from grades three through five took part in the first ever Scarborough Community Math Trail, a field trip organized by Wentworth teachers Janeen Chin, Catherine Hewitt and David Sloatman as part of their professional learning team’s work in finding ways to expand learning beyond the classroom.

“We are interested in learning outside the classroom, so students can really connect their learning with the real world,” said Hewitt, who teaches fifth-grade math and a blended learning classroom of third- and fourth-graders. “Learning doesn’t have to just take place in the classroom. There are so many other opportunities.”

As part of the field trip, students in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade visited a dozen local businesses and offices, including Key Bank, TD Bank, Gorham Savings, Saco and Biddeford Savings, Hannaford, Beal’s Ice Cream, Ace Hardware, the Scarborough Post Office, Scarborough Land Trust, Scarborough Town Hall and El Rayo.

Chin, who teaches third-grade math as well as in a blended learning classroom, said showing students math has a real world application is important.

“When math gets hard, kids begin to wonder why they need to learn this. This brings value to that. This shows why you have to learn this,” Chin said.

At each of the stops, students were asked to figure out a math problem. At the banks, for example, students were asked to make fake cash or check deposit transactions. Students were asked to figure out how much paint was needed for a project at Oak Hill Hardware or how much stamps, flat rate or priority shipping cost at the post office. During their stop at Hannaford, students used math to figure how much milk and bananas they could afford and determine how much sugar is in cereal brands.

Stops at town hall had them registering a dog (Town Clerk’s Office), applying for a passport or registering for summer recreation (Community Services Office) and even figuring out the capacity of the building’s elevator. At Scarborough Land Trust, students were tasked with measuring distances from their school to conservation land, the length of the Nonesuch River and the land area of Scarborough. Students also stopped at the Community Service maintenance building for a series of math problems pertaining to the rooftop solar panels. Students also were asked to apply their math skills during a faux lunch at El Rayo and ice cream purchase at Beal’s.

Students were also asked to come up with their own math problems as they walked to and from the math trail stops.

Hewitt said the field trip was closely connected with the work students have been doing in their classrooms.

“I feel like it was a culmination of all the different math concepts we’ve been working on,” she said.

Chin said the point wasn’t necessarily about making it to every one of the eight stops each student group was assigned, but rather about tackling the real world math problems.

“Everyone, I think, focused on quality rather than quantity of stops,” she said.

Chin said the businesses were not only chosen due to their close proximity to Wentworth but also based on how easily they related to math.

“All the businesses were terrific. They were enthusiastic and helpful. They seemed to enjoy it as well,” Chin said.

Hewitt has been wanting to do a math trail field trip for Wentworth students ever attending a math conference five or six years ago and hearing about a similar concept at Brunswick Middle School.

Hewitt is happy how the field trip went and she, Chin and Sloatman will be sharing about the field trip and the other work their professional learning team is doing in a presentation to other Scarborough school staff on Friday, May 26.

“It seemed to have worked well. I didn’t sleep too well the night before wondering what would go wrong,” she said.

The idea going forward, Hewitt and Chin said, is to map out some of the student math stops so teachers at Wentworth, or other schools, could use the math trail approach as well.

“We want it to be sustainable so it can keep going,” Hewitt said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarbroughleader.com

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