From textbook to bake sale

Year 10 students from John Pirie Secondary School took to the streets of Pirie on Thursday to not only raise money for Food for Education a Kenyan charity, but also to apply the maths skills they learnt in the classroom, to a real life scenario. 

Their teacher, Nyasha Tulloch has embraced a different style of learning with her students, hoping that at the end of their unit, what they have learned will stay with them for life. 

She believes that students are more engaged when the maths is real and meaningful and comes with greater benefits than reading and learning out of a textbook. 

“I think it is a better way for kids to learn. It is real learning. If you just present them information from a text book and they don’t take the time to learn it, it is not necessarily learning”, Nyasha explained. 

“By making these numbers real, and being able to see it all, they can see where the numbers come from in their equation. It means the algebra makes sense, rather than algebra is meaningless.”

Nyasha has a personal connection with the Kenyan charity and decided to not only help feed children who are going to school hungry, but take the opportunity to put her student’s maths skills to work at the same time. 

The idea of a barbecue and bake sale was raised. Students baked their own goods and were able to source donated items for raffles. 

Their maths task was to use simultaneous linear equations to find the break even point and then they will calculate profit scenarios, with their revenue and total expenses.

“I am really impressed that the ownership that the kids have taken with this. They have gone out of their way in their own time to make their own things. They got their families involved. We have had lots of families donate things.”

At the same time to learning maths concepts and baking goods, the class of 30 have been fundraising and started out hoping to raise $1,500 which would feed 30 students in Kenya for six months. 

At the end of the bake sale and barbecue the students were able to raise a total of $2,000. 

A Year 10 student who participated in the task was Jamie Skelton and he agrees that this method of learning is a better way to learn and look at maths. 

“I think it is better to use real life scenarios because lots of people at school ask the question ‘when are we going to use this in real life?’, with this you can see when we are going to use it”, Jamie said. 

Nyasha will be sharing her journey with her students at an upcoming state numeracy conference, showing how to take the same Australian maths curriculum but rather than teach it from a text book,  find ways to apply it in real life in ways that are memorable and are realistic learning experiences.