By tpm | December 16, 2011
Jimmy Stewart has nothing on my 4th hour calculus class.
Every year at my school the math department does a canned food drive to get food for the local food pantry in our town. It’s become a really big deal; we’ve been told it provides enough food to stock the pantry for several months. As an incentive to the students, we offer them a little extra credit for the first 15 cans they bring in (5 points, which translates to roughly a 1% bump in their grade). The top class also gets a donut party.
The Ramen Tower
In my classes, I’ve always pushed this hard, both as a way to get easy extra credit, and as a way to help out the less fortunate at the holidays. This year, the canned food drive in my class took on an unexpected momentum I’ve never experienced before. Rather than bring in just the 15 cans worth extra credit, the kids took things to a whole different level. The classes all tried to outdo each other and several students tried to be the individual that brought in the most cans.
They used various strategies, from clearing out relatives’ pantries to shopping at discount grocery stores to canvassing the neighborhood. One calculus student managed to bring in a whopping 267 cans. Several other students brought more than 100 cans. All five of my classes averaged well over 15 cans per student, going far beyond the extra credit requirement.
The Pyramid of Cans
When the smoke cleared, my students brought in an astonishing 2900 cans (for the curious, we actually only counted Ramen noodles as 1⁄3 of a can, so the total number of non-perishables is actually even higher than that). Across the math department, a several thousand more cans were raised.
I’m so proud of what these students did, and I wanted to bring a little attention to their efforts via this post and the Youtube video below. To all of my students, well done, and Merry Christmas.