Pumpkin math: Saltillo High School students take geometry lesson outside

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

SALTILLO – On a chilly October morning, a class of students at Saltillo High School turned a geometry lesson into a pumpkin-carving exhibition.
Working in teams, the students in Marley Russell’s class began cutting into one of the 54 large orange globes from Smith’s Nursery in Saltillo. Each pair used a design they had created in class to guide their artwork.
The activity was part of a lesson on dilation, a geometric concept in which a figure is stretched or shrunk using a scale factor but maintains the same shape. The students had to begin with a smaller image and enlarge it into a model to guide their carving.
“Some kids have never carved pumpkins,” said Russell, who did the exercise with all three of her geometry classes, a total of 92 students. “I thought while we are on this subject, we could do designs and give them an opportunity to carve.”
The week before carving the pumpkins, the students learned about and took a test on scale factors. They also created a dilation project on poster board.
“Geometry isn’t boring, like some of them think,” Russell said. “You can relate it to fun activities you do. Any time you carve, it is geometric shapes and lines.”
As Halloween approached, the students spread out on picnic tables outside the school and carved faces, initials and paw prints, among other things.
Sophomore Jordyn Owens and partner John Gann made a Batman logo on their pumpkin.
Jordyn said they came up with their design after doing a Google search for carving ideas.
“We get to all do it together and have fun doing it,” she said. “We’re not cooped in the classroom.”
Meanwhile, cross country teammates Dillon Hall and Adam Grubbs carved the letters “S-a-l-t-i-l-l-o.”
“It is different,” Dillon said of the exercise. “To carve a pumpkin and do it with math is different.
“It is a realistic example of using scale factors. You can use scale factors outside of math problems and use them in real life.”
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com