Lakota sixth-grade girls team up on ‘secret’ math project to surprise classmates with snacks

Two Lakota elementary school students were recently assigned a “top secret” math project and the girls delivered this week by surprising classmates with their favorite snacks, drinks and candy.

Cherokee Elementary sixth graders Reese Ratica and Blakely Hermann are in an advanced math class at the Liberty Twp. school. After finishing much of their fall quarter lessons in advance, teacher Todd Caulfield devised an unusual assignment and asked the girls to keep it to themselves.

The project would involve not only putting into practice their math skills, but also organizing a classroom sampling survey in the school by quizzing students and asking them their favorite snack, drink and candy.

The girls used recently learned lessons in percentages to organize their classroom findings and then applied more brain power as they devised their surprise “treat day” Wednesday.

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“We are constantly trying to get the kids involved in projects where they are using the math,” said Caulfield.

“I just kind of threw ‘what if’ at them and said what if we do a treat day where everyone in the school got treats and asked to think about how we could do that?”

“Then I got out of the way and was there for them to clarify and answer some questions … and I let them run with it and they did,” he said.

“All quarter we have been studying proportional reasoning, so we talked about how to gather some data and to use that proportionally to expand it to the whole school. So, they randomly found five students in every homeroom and created a (snack questionnaire) form for the students to fill out.”

“Then they applied that to the total number of students in the school to figure out how many chips, how many drinks and how many snacks would be needed. We also talked about how having every kid make their own choice wouldn’t be feasible.”

Then Ratica and Hermann did some online research to find the best pricing for the treats.

They then “made this amazing presentation” to Cherokee Principal Valerie Montgomery, he said, and “she was blown away and loved it.”

With the school paying for some of snacks the girls then collected the rest of their tasty treats through eliciting school parents to donate snacks, drinks and candy to the cause.

“It’s been a lot of fun watching them from the beginning to the end, said Caulfield.

Wednesday’s school day saw the girls wheel around their “top secret snack cart” to all the classrooms, giving each of Cherokee’s more than 800 students a snack, drink and a piece of candy, leaving smiling classmates in their wake.

Ratica said she and her partner learned a lot of different, real-world lessons from their project.

Hermann, said they learned organizational skills among many others.

Ratica said “I’m very grateful for all the teachers that made this happen.”

Hermann added they were also thankful “for all the parents who donated, because there is no way this could have happened without them.”

Montgomery said, “the girls were extremely motivated and empowered by getting a chance to see this big project through and doing something special for their peers.”

“I was impressed by how as they worked through the project, if they came to a barrier or problem, they found a way to make it happen.”

Photojournalist Nick Graham contributed to this story.

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