Never underestimate an educator’s ability to seize the teachable moment. All across Pierce County this week, teachers are capitalizing on student interest in the Seahawks at the Super Bowl with events that feature lessons about determination, team spirit — and math.
Thursday night at Custer Elementary School in Lakewood, parents, teachers and kids came together at school for a 12th Fan Seahawks Math Party.
“We love the Seahawks here,” said kindergarten teacher Melissa Kaasa. “We find what the kids like, and they’re on board.”
The school’s multipurpose room was packed, as the evening began with a tailgate party featuring hot dogs, potato salad, chips, fruit punch and Skittles.
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Each student received a green paper “scorecard” — a hand-held facsimile of a football field, marked off in scaled-down “10-yard” increments.
They took their scorecards around to stations with various math-related games. Each completed math task earned a student 10, 20 or 30 yards. Reaching 100 yards qualified a student to enter a raffle for Seahawks jerseys, footballs, posters, hats and other team gear. Most of the prizes were given to the school by an anonymous donor.
Last year’s math night attracted about 35 people, said Custer Principal Jane Al-Tamimi. Thursday, there were more than 300. She was especially pleased to see all the dads who turned out with their families for the football-themed evening.
“Tonight is about math, and having parents engage with math with their kids,” Al-Tamimi said. “Math can be fun, and it’s not just something you do at school. We hope to give parents ideas of things they can do with their kids.”
At one table, kids were asked to write down how many number combinations they could think up that created the all-important number 12. Kaasa asked students their favorite Seahawk, and visually graphed each vote on a giant wall chart. Russell Wilson was the runaway favorite.
Kids lined up to compete in the “Race to the End Zone” game. Pairs of students had to choose a math function — addition, subtraction, multiplication or division — then face off to see who could deliver the answers as fourth-grade teacher Christina Merritt held up flash cards. Correct answers were worth 10 yards each.
“I just made it up this morning,” Merritt said of her popular game. “We have little kids counting on fingers, learning addition and subtraction. It’s all about getting families together.”
Damian Barnes, 8, played a multiplication game with his dad Charlie. Both are big Seahawks fans, along with Damian’s mom Sandra. Damian’s dad gave his son a special haircut, with a Seahawk on one side of his head and a 12 on the other.
The family was impressed with Seahawks Math Night.
“We love it,” said Sandra.
Third-grader Daniel Kim wasn’t as easily impressed by the sea of blue and green that surrounded him. His insists his favorite sport is swimming. And he prefers recess to math. But he, too, was enjoying Thursday night’s event.
“I’m here for the fun, the food, the games — and the prizes,” he said.