Math Engagement with Halloween Candy
Every year, the students at my school donate their extra Halloween candy to the local USO. As so many projects, it started small and has grown in scope and volume every year. Our students are generous as community contributors. They take great pride in the amount of candy they contribute. One great motivator: the class that donates the most candy per student wins a free recess!
In my world, everything is a math problem. As one of the sponsors of the Halloween Candy drive, I took on this project enthusiastically.
On Monday this week, my math students circulated around the school, collecting the candy from each classroom. When they returned to our classroom, they weighed the candy from each class and recorded the weight on a spreadsheet. In small groups, they calculated the lbs. of candy per student (unit rate) in each class and created a graph for each grade level to show that data. Groups of students worked together determining how to organize the data, adding titles and labels to create the graphs. The math talk was rich as they decided on the scale of the graph based on the data.
Students in their small groups used several math practice standards as well as Common Core standards to analyze the data. They were invested in the project as they were the ones to determine which class won! This was a project where the students were in charge, analyzing and discussing the data in their own conversations. They did not need the teacher to lead the discussion as they cared enough about the outcome to figure it out themselves.
Making math come to life is my passion. We need to take advantage of any occasion to use real data or a real life holiday to engage students in math. The best part of this project is that we collected 570 lbs. of candy to donate to the USO for our soldiers! This is a project with a clear purpose and the kids loved it!