If you’d happened to swing by our center a few weeks ago, at just the right moment near the start of a particular lesson, you’d have witnessed a curious sight: our students pausing mid-quiz to rise from their seats, removing their shoes, and weighing them on a kitchen scale. In the photo above, you can see Adrian W.’s sneaker, which clocked in at precisely 198 grams.
On that evening, the group was two thirds of the way through reading Edgar Allen Poe’s Pie, an exhilaratingly quirky book of math-themed children’s verse penned by J. Patrick Lewis and further enlivened by illustrator Michael Slack. The poems included in this volume are clever, kid-friendly send-ups of well-known classics and Lewis has managed to incorporate a word problem into every one of them.
So why were Adrian and his classmates weighing their shoes? That’s an easy one! It was a prerequisite for correctly answering the first reading comprehension quiz question:
One of the poems they’d read the preceding week was Lewis’s Hilaire Belloc’s Crackerjack Yak, a send-up of Belloc’s charming three-stanza-long The Yak. Lewis has a yak report his body weight by coughing and each cough is equivalent to slightly more than two tons. To gauge our students’ grasp of the material, we tasked them with solving a very similar question. Adrian, whose quiz paper we cropped for the image of the question text, was among those who aced that question!