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Middle School Math Meets Holiday Cafe (VIDEO)

Updated: Mar 21

Middle School math teacher Simon Kingsley came up with the idea of a holiday math cafe for his students in December. It seemed like the perfect vehicle for introducing some real world math applications, while giving students a chance to be creative and have some fun after a semester of hard work.

About Simon 

Simon is in his second year teaching at Marin Horizon School. After discovering his own passion for math while in middle school, and having student-taught middle schoolers in college, he’s found that he loves teaching students at this level. 

Says Simon, “There’s never a boring day teaching middle schoolers. They have such fun personalities and so much energy. I love making connections with them.”  

Why a project like this? 

“As a math teacher, there’s pressure to get through so many concepts. And we definitely want to be sure these students are prepared for high school and college, but it’s not very meaningful to them if they don’t know why they’re doing the math they’re doing.” 

“Of course they have word problems and lessons that show some application, but I find that it’s especially effective when students are creating their own problems and they can really see that in their own scenarios how they can apply this type of math.”

The Holidays Inspire a Math Cafe

The holidays were coming up, so Simon thought it would be great to incorporate something fun into what his students were learning. His fifth graders were learning about decimal operations, and the seventh and eighth graders were reviewing  algebraic equations and inequalities. 

For the cafe, the younger students created unique menu items, calculated cost of ingredients, revenues, and profits, while the older students created equations and inequalities to answer questions like, “What’s the minimum profit needed to keep the item on the menu?” 

“What I learned was how to make a proper multi-step equation. We’re learning how to solve them, and so this is kind of putting our skills to the test,” said 7th grader Harris.

From Christmas Cookies to Milk Marinated Hashbrowns!

“This was definitely a fun project. First, just figuring out the math, but seeing what other ideas people had for their Christmas item,” said fifth grader Sebastian.

Simon agreed, “The best part of this kind of project is the creativity from the kids. You never know what to expect!” Menu items included Peppermint Bark Gingerbread with Magic Sauce, Supernova Cappuccino, Peppermint Stick Ice Cream, and, one of Simon’s favorites, Milk Marinated Hashbrowns.


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