Mother Earth Math
Getting their hands dirty?  Shoveling mulch?  Pulling weeds?  Math students?  Yes!  If their teacher is Luajean Bryan at Walker Valley High School.

Rain and inclement weather delayed the progress, but nothing could stop the enthusiasm with which the pre-calculus students attacked their project.  The rewards of beautiful gardens, higher test scores and homemade cookies urged them on.

Luajean Bryan, a secondary mathematics teacher at Walker Valley High School, challenged her students to determine the area of irregular quadrilaterals using three methods:  trigonometry, determinants and matrices, and Heron’s formula.  All three methods used higher order thinking skills and prepared these math students for college readiness testing.

All advanced math students might encounter these same challenges in their classes, but Ms. Bryan required the final calculations to include a practical step—an estimate of the amount of mulch each of these quadrilateral spaces, in reality garden plots, would require.

The rain and inclement weather came into the picture when, following their calculations, the students dug up the garden soil, pulled weeds, and planted over 500 tulip and daffodil bulbs in the soil.  Once covered with the mulch so carefully calculated, the gardens await warmer weather.  The students await the fruit of their labor—lovely, well groomed, quadrilateral spaces filled with welcoming blossoms.  And high ACT scores! 

Without the generous contribution of Mr. Steve Bivens, this project would have been just a dream. This gift-supported Teacher Grant-Individual has given practical meaning to the formula A = ½ ab sinC. The students’ ACT scores will be positively affected and all visitors and students entering Walker Valley High School will enjoy the colorful gardens.