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Roland Park Math Class + Community Service = An Invaluable Lesson

March 06, 2018

Roland Park seventh graders got a hands-on lesson about the importance of math outside of the classroom, all while helping a family in need in their Carver City neighborhood.

“We were learning how to do surface area, area and volume,” said Marquaya, a Roland Park seventh grader.

“Students walk in and say, ‘Why do I have to learn this,’” said seventh-grade math teacher Bruce Young.

Young, who is an accountant-turned-teacher, had the answer.

“One of the things that the IB Program does is it helps us try to relate to real-world experiences when the students are learning,” said Young.

In the past, Young had students calculate how much paint it would take to paint a house using a drawing. An idea surfaced last year with the school’s former principal: take the students out into the community for a painting project to apply the math. At first, it seemed like a tough task.

“She said, ‘You know Mr. Young, it would be really neat if you painted a house.’ I basically looked at her and said, ‘You’re crazy if you think I’m going to take a bunch of seventh graders out and paint a house,’” said Young.

But Young said he couldn’t get the idea out his mind, and with school leaders’ support, the project became a reality.

“Today, we’re painting a house,” said Marquaya.

The school’s crossing guard, who is connected with the community, knew an elderly couple who lives just a couple blocks from the school and was in need of some help around their house.

“It makes me feel good to see that we’re doing good in our neighborhood,” said Joseph, a Roland Park seventh-grader. 

“We’re helping someone that needs help,” Marquaya said.

The students made a couple trips to the home to prepare for the painting project and applied the math lessons they’ve learned.

“We came and we measured it to tell how much paint we needed. After we measured the walls, we had to subtract the shutters from the actual wall. That’s how we found out how much paint we needed all together,” Marquaya said.

“We had to multiply the length times the width of every single part of the house, like the windows, everything to know how much paint we need for that type of spot. So, we added all of the white and all of the pink, so in the end we can see how much gallons we need. One gallon is 400 square feet,” said seventh-grade math student, Becky. “We have 84 and then we have 12 for the windows, so we did 84 plus 12, which gave us 96.” 

The project added up to be a memorable math lesson that made quite an impact on students and the community.

“We’re combining community service. We’re combining the area calculations, the math lesson that we have. It’s been a great project, and as you can see the kids are having a wonderful time,” said Young. “We feel like we’re giving back to Carver City, because we are in the middle of Carver City.” 

“It’s a very good thing, because you help someone who you know they’re going to be happy with this home. That gives you a great thing in your heart and you want to keep helping people along the way,” said Becky.

“It makes me feel good,” said Joseph. Marquaya agreed, “It’s coming out good.”

The spirit of giving and helping the couple, didn’t end once the paint dried and the students returned to school.

“There was an addition done on the house, and the roof caved in. We came out last week, we filled up the dumpster. Now, I’m going to see if I can find someone help us repair the rest of the house,” Young said.

Young said what once seemed like a challenging real-world lesson will likely become an annual tradition.

“Basically, now I can look at it and say this was the right thing to do,” said Young. “And now, the question is what do we do next year, because I know there’s a lot of people at school that are probably going, ‘Well, I want to paint a house,’ so we’ll see where we go from there.” 

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