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Doing the math of giving back: Student activity teaches, helps animal shelters

Students and faculty sort the 197 items they collected as part of their 100th day in school to be donated to animal shelters in Daleville, Enterprise and Ozark Jan. 27. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Students and faculty sort the 197 items they collected as part of their 100th day in school to be donated to animal shelters in Daleville, Enterprise and Ozark Jan. 27. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: January 28, 2016

FORT RUCKER, ALA. (Jan. 28, 2016) -- Along with the familiar reading, writing and arithmetic, students at Fort Rucker Primary School learned to give back to their community as they celebrated 100 days in session.

The students celebrated with an activity Jan. 27 that not only challenged their minds, but provided a valuable service for animal shelters in the surrounding communities, said Yvette Esteves-Hurst, FRPS Spanish teacher.

As part of the activity, students were asked to provide pet food to be donated to animal shelters in Daleville, Enterprise and Ozark in a way that incorporated math, science and technologies, while also learning valuable problem-solving skills, said Esteves-Hurst.

“Fort Rucker Primary School provides a setting that connects mathematical language and symbols to the everyday lives of our students,” she said. “We came up with a school activity designed to promote a cooperative partnership among students, parents, community and staff.”

The students were tasked with sorting the bags by using different mathematical measurements – counting by 10s, measurements, weight and reading a bar graph.

“We taught the students to count to 100 by ones or by tens,” said the Spanish teacher. “With this activity, the students were able to work with the Math Standards 6, which focuses on attending to precision; Math Standards 7, which helps them look for and make structure; and Math Standards 8, which helps them to look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.”

Students used numbers, including written numerals to represent quantities and solve quantitative problems as they counted the animal food items and separated them into bags.

A bit of science was incorporated by learning the differences between the animals that the food would be distributed to, such as dogs and cats. The children also got a lesson in teamwork since they had to work together to arrange the donated items into separate bags, and each bag was only allowed to contain 10 items, so once a bag was filled, they had to move on to another bag until all the items had been used to fill the bags, said the Spanish teacher.

“The emphasis is on the counting sequence,” said Esteves-Hurst. “The students verbally count the numbers in sequence.”

This year, the students, with the full support of parents and faculty, managed to donate a total of 197 items to be distributed to the surrounding shelters. After all the donated items were collected and sorted, Esteves-Hurst said the items were donated to the shelters personally with the help of other FRPS staff members.

The event is designed to educate and promote a cooperative partnership among students, parents, community and staff, she said.

In December, the school participated in an activity to gather food for local food banks, and Estevez-Hurst said they want to make sure that people’s four-legged counterparts weren’t forgotten.

“Students at Fort Rucker Primary School are learning and constructing knowledge as a result of meaningful and purposeful experiences,” she said. “We want to teach the children about giving and to think of others aside from their selves, and the children really did not disappoint.”

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