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More than math: 8th grade lesson highlights calculations, creativity and communication

Eighth grade math students in the Poland Central School District learned more than just math during a recent lesson taught by Erin Meeker.


In March 2023, Meeker decided to lead the students in a hands-on lesson about calculating volume. However, it wasn’t just about the numbers.


“Yes, they found volume. Almost all of them also worked in pairs or groups, which required them to utilize communication skills,” explained Meeker.


The lesson took place over the course of about one week at the end of March. Students were required to build an object using items found at home or small store-bought items.


Students had to use at least five components – one cone, one cylinder, one prism, one sphere and a fifth object that was one of those four, to build their object. Students then had to calculate the volume of each component and the object as a whole.


This led to the students being resourceful in finding the components and designing what they were going to build. The students used items such as tubes, cans, wiffle balls and boxes.


The students had a wide creative license. Project designs included a tower, a truck, a monkey and a dragon.


“Volume is fun to do and it was fun to put stuff together,” said student Kade Haver.


“We could be creative about it,” student Julia Ossont said about what she liked most about the project.


Technology teacher Joseph Brown provided glue sticks for the students to use and Emily Dusart provided the students with paint for the projects.


This was the first time Meeker led this project with students as she formatted an idea shared in a teacher group online to fit her classes.


Meeker noted this could be used as part of an interdisciplinary lesson in the future, which PreK-12 Principal Gregory Cuthbertson said he would like to see more of in future years.