Sunday, August 1, 2021

8th graders calculate surface area for charity


Thanks to some eighth graders in Columbus, Indiana, a number of local charities are going to be showered with books this Christmas, The Republic reports.

Students of math teacher Trisha Burns and English teacher Angela Spurgeon at Central Middle School put a project together this season to raise money and donate books to local charities. The project made good use of students’ math and communication skills as well as their community support frame of mind.

In order to make such a project happen, students had to:

  • Figure out which books to buy based on cost and the needs of the selected charities
  • Develop informational bookmarks with statistics on the importance of reading to insert
  • Compute the surface area of the book packages to find the amount of wrapping paper needed
  • Reach out to the community to ask for money (set up a GoFundMe account, walk around in local businesses or call them up, etc.)

Books make great gifts for young minds!

Doing the math

A 240-page hardcover book is 6 inches wide, 9 inches tall, and ½ inch high. What’s the minimum area of a piece of wrapping paper needed to wrap this book, given that wrapping requires a minimum of a ½-inch overlap on all boundaries?

The surface area of a rectangular prism is computed as

A = 2(wl+hl+hw)

where w is the width, l is the length, and h is the height.

Other charitable ideas with books

The students in Columbus chose Love Chapel, Lincoln Central Neighborhood Family Center, Foundation for Youth, Book Buddies, Family School Partners, Horizon House, and Turning Point as the seven charities to receive most of the books.

For readers who aren’t local to Columbus, similar charitable organizations are most likely available near you. But if you need a few suggestions, you could try:

Another possibility might be a library. However, although there are needy public libraries in the US, they don’t make books a suitable “gift” package because they are free to discard the donated books, put them in the collection for patrons to read, or sell them at a book sale to raise money. At that point, if you’ve raised the money to buy new books (or even used books), it might be better to send libraries the cash so they can put 100 percent of it to use in promoting literacy.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent Posts

We congratulate the ‘Hybrid’ Class of 2021

We congratulate the 3 million or so seniors who graduate this spring amid a global pandemic and hope for a return to normal.

Md. to administer tests in math, English

A week of historic cold and snow

Perseverance lands on Mars

Summer vacation, summer job, or summer school?

Biden is sworn in as 46th president

Florida balances optimism after the riots