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three girls setting up mac & cheese boxes like dominos

On Friday, February 9, 2024, Mound's fifth-grade class led an outreach project in which they learned something about themselves while giving back to the community. The students are responsible for planning and following through with various tasks, including cost analysis, publicity, and coordination with larger organizations. Last year, students and staff saw a video of an elementary school that created a "domino run" with cereal boxes. They thought, "We can do that." That would allow students to have a STEM project, practice their leadership skills, and, most importantly, do something meaningful for their community–a perfect fit for their Science and Global Citizenship magnet. Students had to brainstorm ways to determine the number of boxes they wanted to use and then decide what to do with all the boxes when they were done.  To see what their Principal and students thought of this event view this year's MAC 6000 video

Last year's students immediately thought of donating the boxes to Food Share of Ventura County. They wanted to give the boxes to them but realized that cereal, although it has vitamins, does not always make kids feel full. Last year's class reached out to a dietician and talked to her about nutritional value. They then decided their "dominos" should be more satiating and nutrient-dense. They also thought a whole family could eat Mac 'N' Cheese. That is how the Mac 'N' Cheese domino run began.

This year's students loved what last year's students did and wanted to build on it, hoping they could reach even more families in need. Last year's class raised 4250 boxes, so the students set a goal of 5000 this year. They reached that goal and surpassed it, with the current count at 6000 boxes.

They reached that goal by having groups of students present their ideas to the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and asked for matching donations to help them reach their box goal. They then presented to other classes throughout the school, explaining what they were doing and why. They asked students in those other classes if they could bring in boxes that could be used for their project and then donated to Food Share. Students also created fliers and posters. The focus this year was learning how to publicize. The fifth grade classed then held their second annual "Stuff the Trailer with Mac 'N' Cheese" drive. Students collected 3521 boxes. PTO matched many of those boxes, helping students get to over 5,000. With even more boxes arriving daily, they have reached over 6,000 boxes.  

"Throughout this STEM and outreach project, 93 students will have worked together on math concepts such as volume, area, estimation, multiplication strategies, and grouping. Leadership, teamwork, and communication skills have all been used and refined. They've learned perseverance and grit, how to keep Mac 'N' Cheese from falling over, and how to regroup and revise strategies when it does. Most importantly, the kids are excited to take care of others in our community by providing satiating meals that kids enjoy eating," stated Ms. Tracie Fickenscher, Mound 5th grade teacher. 

Lessons include:

  • Presentation skills
  • Time management
  • Communicating to a large audience (and knowing their audience)
  • Leadership and teamwork

STEM skills include:

  • Figuring out the perfect distance (and reliable distance) between boxes
  • Understanding the effects of outside forces and how to control for those forces
  • Calculating the volume of a box, wagon, and trailer
  • Estimating how many boxes fit in a wagon and a trailer and how to pack the boxes to maximize space
  • Determining how many boxes it will take to get to the front of the school from our classrooms
  • Developing a model and revising it based on data from trials

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