Elementary students learn geometry through Halloween candy bars

Nov 16, 2023, 7:01 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2023, 8:35 am

RIVERTON — Utah math scores for elementary students fell slightly last year, according to the Utah State Board of Education.

One trick to keep more students engaged with math just might be leftover Halloween candy.

It has already worked in one class in the Jordan School District.

It takes a special kind of teacher to make math fun.

“I love all the subjects, but I really enjoy math,” said Dhylan Meyer, a sixth grade teacher at Foothills Elementary School in Riverton.

Making sure students are engaged with math assignments is a challenge he has almost every day.

“A lot of the times, you just have heads slumped on the desks,” he said with a laugh.

Last week’s math project, though, is one all his students absolutely ate up.

And it was all because of Milky Way candy bars.

“The caramel chocolate mix is perfect,” said Foothills Elementary principal Abe Yospe while eating one in his office.

Here’s a look at how the students calculated the number of candy bars. (Jordan School District)All the students, teachers, and staff know that Yospe loves Milky Ways.

“Well, I remind them nonstop,” said Yospe with a laugh. “On the announcements, I tell them I love Milky Ways, ask them to bring me, well, I ask them to bring me just one, but many students will bring me more than one.”

However, he never imagined the number of Milky Way candy bars they brought him for Halloween.

“They blew me away with how many Milky Ways they got for me. I couldn’t believe it,” he said with a laugh.

The students just wanted to make him feel welcome.

“This is his first year here and he is a lot of fun,” said sixth grader Elliana Ortiz. “They were, like, falling off the table because there were so many.”

But just how many Milky Ways did he get from students?

All the classes decided to have a competition without actually counting them.

Dhylan Meyer challenged his sixth grade math students to use math to determine the number of candy bars in a container. (KSL TV) Dhylan Meyer challenged his sixth grade math students to use math to determine the number of candy bars in a container. (KSL TV) The correct number of candy bars was 3,178. The students calculated a total of 3,173. (KSL TV)

Mr. Meyer saw it as another opportunity to make math fun.

“So, I was like, OK kids, this is what we are going to do. Because all the other classes are just going to make a random guess. But we are going to use math and we’re going to figure it out using math,” he said.

Using all sorts of geometry and mathematical calculations, even some kind of model to determine size and volume, the class came up with a number.

“We guessed 3,173,” said Meyer. “The total was 3,178.”

They were off by five.

“I look at the equation they did and I still do not understand it and I am the principal so maybe I should,” Yospe said with a big laugh.

The students sure understood it and had a great time figuring it out.

“We got to deal with a lot of different numbers and a lot of different equations,” sixth grader Alessandra Harper said.

“We got to learn more math, too, which is fun if it is in the right way,” Jools Page, also in the sixth grade said.

It turns out there isn’t a wrong way to learn about math when it comes to kids and candy bars.

“To make it something relevant into their lives, I think it is a good way to go. Like, oh, you learned math actually. You tricked them into learning math,” Meyer said.

Now the trick is making all those candy bars disappear.

“I still have a lot of them left. I share them with the teachers. I am getting a little sick of them,” Yospe said with another laugh.

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Elementary students learn geometry through Halloween candy bars