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Miami Middle School students master math through food truck project

May 9th, 2017

By Kevin Kilbane | The News-Sentinel

With four local food trucks lining the parking lot along the building, it looked a big party Monday at Miami Middle School. Actually, food truck operators helped sixth-grade teachers dish up a real-life lesson in math.

While looking at a website where teachers share lesson plans, sixth-grade Miami Middle math teacher Angela Potchka said she found a math lesson built around starting a food truck business. She adapted it for use by Miami's sixth-grade students.

Students broke into groups and designed their own food truck and menu. All menu items had to be priced at less than $1, which forced students to add decimals when pretending to order from the menus, Potchka said. Students also had to figure out the volume and perimeter measurements of their food truck.

Advanced students also had to calculate the volume of space filled by items inside the truck, such as the stove, she said.

"I thought it would be a cool idea to have the food truck vendors come out and talk to them (students) and see the trucks," Potchka said. Six vendors replied to her inquiry about helping, and all six showed up Monday.

Those participating included Bravas, Kona Ice, Who Cut the Cheese?, Big Apple Pizza, Big Lacy's BBQ and King Arthur's Trolley. Vendors talked with students and answered questions about starting and operating their businesses.

Then students went outside to see the food trucks. The only downside: The trucks weren't serving samples.

A lot of students questioned how they were going to use what they learned during the project, but they soon found out, Potchka said.

"If you are going to work in the fast-food business, you are going to use this," she said.

Sixth-grader Emily Andorfer, 12, enjoyed the project.

In addition to working with friends in a group, "I get to learn more about what it takes to run a business," Emily said