LACEY - Nisqually Middle School seventh grader Emily McGlothern, 12, wasn't thinking of the slope of a line when she and her classmates walked laps around the school track last week.
She said she was thinking of the money her advanced pre-algebra class might raise for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which gives gifts or experiences to children with life-threatening illnesses.
“I tried to get as many laps as I could,” Emily said. “It’s an important foundation that we’re trying to raise money for.”
Emily and the others in the class collected data on their “walk-a-thon” to create graphs on Microsoft Excel for a lesson about rates and the slopes of lines.
Student-teacher Tara Bogdon, who is studying to be a math teacher through The Evergreen State College, said that she designed the lesson to combine service and technology. This quarter, Bogdon is supervised by Nisqually math teacher Kristin Sprague.
The students voted on the charity, Bogdon said.
In order to learn more about slope, Bogdon asked the students to ask their families and friends for pledges. If donors gave a donation, instead of a pledge, a student’s line would be flat.
On Monday, the advanced pre-algebra students headed out to the track to run or walk laps for an hour, during which Bogdon and a helper rewarded students for each lap completed with a sticker.
The next day, the students learned how to use their pledge amount to determine the total that could be collected with each passing lap.
The experience of using Excel to draw a graph was new to most students, including Kurt Price, 13, who said he is much more used to drawing graphs by hand.
“We didn’t know we were doing this for a graph,” Kurt said. “I was hoping to raise money, as much money as I could for Make-A-Wish.”