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Sixth grade math students create their own zoos

Posted on: May 14, 2021
6th graders create Zoos

6th graders create Zoos

Madison Middle School’s sixth grade math students are putting their newfound knowledge to work -- with zoo animals! Students are currently working on a project that shows how the math they learned this school year can be applied to daily situations, even future careers. 


Mrs. Erin Bruhn, Sixth Grade Mathematics teacher, created this review project, taking several concepts covered this year and combining them into one large visual display of knowledge, broken down into bite-sized pieces. “How fun is that?!?” Mrs. Bruhn says. 


The project began with students choosing 6-10 animals to include in their very own Zoo, after researching animals that interested them. 


“Incorporating writing, students had to explain to me why they chose those animals and how they improve their zoo,” Mrs. Bruhn explains. “Then students decided how many of each animal to have in their enclosures. They used this number to create ratios (part to whole) and percentages representing what portion of their zoo each animal encompasses.” 


Students then began designing their zoos, choosing various shapes to represent animal enclosures. The shapes were placed on a large coordinate plane, and then students provided the vertices of the shapes, or the ordered pairs for each shapes’ corner, and the area of each one. 


Students are now researching the animals’ habitats to design their enclosures and finish designing their zoo -- including vegetation, walkways, shops, and eateries. 


In addition, students will get the opportunity to have a Skype call interview with three zookeeps from Zoo Tampa on May 21, the last day of school. 


“Mrs. Miller’s daughter works at the Tampa Zoo,” Mrs. Bruhn elaborates. “We want all the classes to come together and ask about being a zookeeper, including how they use math in their job -- which is a lot! -- and what math classes they took in their education career to help them become a zookeeper.” 


Throughout this project, students are not only incorporating knowledge of research, science, and writing, but tests seven math standards students learned this year. 


“I think it is incredibly important for our students to see how they will use what they are learning in their future careers and what they need to do in their educational careers to be successful!” adds Mrs. Bruhn. “The number one question I get asked is, ‘When am I ever going to use this type of math?’ This project is a perfect example of when and why we need to excel in math.”