PEPPERELL - Students in Grant Phillips seventh-grade math class recently completed a class enrichment project to complement the math taught this year.

"This unit synthesized in a very realistic and compelling situation with many of the most important math topics the students have covered so far this year, including ratios, rates and unit rates, decimals and percents, and incorporating complicated area and volume calculations," shared Phillips.

First, they were assigned into groups called "consultants" by Phillips. They worked in groups to get the maximum out of their recent math unit based on a fictitious city whose landfill was rapidly filling up and facing closure. This unit was about using math to create data which supports a complicated decision. Should the town keep the landfill open, or should they close it?

The structure of the unit provided the students with plenty of aids to help guide the groups if they found themselves stuck. It helped them organize their data on paper so they could better understand how to compare their plans.

"They needed to do research and heavy-duty math calculations to support their findings and bolster their presentation to the "council," a sixth-grade class. Their findings were shared with sixth-grade students, and the sixth-grade students had to do their own note taking and analysis to decide which proposal was the best option for the city. "It was great for the sixth-graders to get a sense of where they are headed next year and how all the math we try to cram into their heads can come together in the real world and inform decision making," said Phillips.

This was solely an "in-class project," giving the students an opportunity to work collaboratively and hone their decision-making skills. This was a trial run on this additional class work to enhance the learning from the unit. While the students wrote summaries and included an oral presentation, this was still considered solely a math class project.

Phillips said, "There can be many avenues for interdisciplinary learning, but I was piloting this and wanted to get a sense of how it worked and how the students handled it. I tried this with one of my classes, maybe we'll be trying it with more classes next year.

"All in all it was a good enrichment activity," said Phillips.