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Halloween Icon Brings Math and Science to Life for Sixth Graders at Grover Cleveland Middle School

Christine Corliss

Thursday, October 31, 2013 • 1:08am


CALDWELL, NJ - Math and science became a bit more fun for sixth graders at Grover Cleveland Middle School, Caldwell, on Friday, when lessons on estimation, problem solving and the scientific method were reinforced using everyone’s favorite Halloween icon, the pumpkin. An annual event, parent volunteers work with teams of three to five students to complete pumpkin-themed activities while emphasizing recent units from math and science classes.

“This is a great way to reinforce the sixth grade curriculum and get parents involved,” said sixth grade math teacher Ryuichi Saito. “Parents lead the students through a series of teacher-provided activities, and students are able to use the skills that they acquired in their math and science classes to complete the project. And, everyone has fun doing it!”

Enjoying their day were sixth graders Kayla Granada-Jeronimo and Emma Knapp who meticulously put the final touches on their pumpkin during the school’s annual Pumpkinology Day.

Kayla Granada-Jeronimo and Emma Knapp   Credit: Christine Corliss

Pumpkinology focuses on measurement, averages, estimation, problem solving and the scientific method, culminating with a not-so-common school activity, pumpkin carving. Also on hand to take turns at scooping out seeds were sixth graders Jack Santoro, Connor Padover and Andrew McLaughlin.

From left: Jack Santoro, Connor Padover and Andrew McLaughlin  
Credit: Christine Corliss

Math teachers Saito and Amanda Keenan coordinate the event, creating student teams and developing the activities. Students use the scientific method to develop a hypothesis about the relationship of pumpkin seeds to the size and weight of the pumpkin, and use the activity to prove or disprove their theory. Each student team works together to complete the activities, comparing results to other teams within their class. Things get messy as pumpkins and seeds are cleaned and counted, but the excitement builds as the finished jack-o-lanterns are displayed.

Vincent Guarino, also in sixth grade, dug deep to clean out the seeds from his team’s pumpkin.

Vincent Guarino  Credit: Christine Corliss

When everyone has completed the packet and carved a pumpkin, the students in each class hold a contest, voting for which pumpkin is the scariest, most traditional, funniest, and more.

Keenan, who came up with the idea for Pumpkinology several years ago, added, “Pumpkinology shows students that math and science are truly a part of everyday activities, and they are fun!”

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