Olympia Students Learn 'Math for Life'

May 28, 2017 | Heidi Baumgartner

Students from Olympia (Wash.) Christian School (OCS) and other school partners in the community had a special two-week task in March and April. Olympia area students in kindergarten through grade 12 needed to visit a minimum of five local businesses associated with the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce.

During these visits, students were supposed to ask the business how they use math every day and then answer a math question relevant to their grade level.

At the cabinetmakers, for example, students finished the design on a kitchen and determined if the size of a stove would fit into a projected space. At the bank, students answered deposit, withdrawal and bank balance questions. When the tasks were completed, the business would sign or stamp the student’s map.

This was the first year for OCS students to participate in the Thurston County Chamber Education Committee’s seventh annual Math for Life event.

“To my delight, 50 percent of our students participated,” reports Sharron Schwartz, OCS principal. “Since this was the first year we participated, I was not sure what percentage of our student body would be able to participate.”

Where Schwartz initially thought students might be able to visit three to five of the nearly 50 businesses, Schwartz soon had to revise the local school prizes because no student visited fewer than five businesses.

 “After the first five days, I realized I had a problem: I had one student who had visited 10 places,” Schwartz says. “The number of visits they made caused me to have to rethink the prizes offered.”

OCS student Isaac Roy visited 22 businesses, and Giselle Delacruz also visited a high number of businesses. They both won the school’s top $100 drawing.

Additionally, Leia Delacruz was the winner of a drawing by Diamond Technologies and won a "room" redesign kit including buzzers for "entering without permission.” Before year-end, all participants were awarded participation medals from the chamber.

Schwartz is grateful for a forward-thinking donor who gifted the school with a one-year membership to Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, giving students an opportunity to participate in Math for Life.

“It has been a great partnership, and we are still learning ways to be a bigger part of our community,” Schwartz says. As for Math for Life: “We all agreed it is an annual event we want to include in our calendar.”