As we head into the holidays, multiple opportunities arise for us to spend more time with our children doing fun activities together. These are also great opportunities to show how math is used in the “real world”.

I was preparing to roast a leg of lamb earlier this week and started to figure out what time I had to place it in the oven to have dinner ready by 7:30pm. Meanwhile, my son sat at the kitchen table doing his daily math homework. This was a great chance to ask HIM when I should place the lamb in the oven.

We discussed what information he would need to determine the answer (never give a student the numbers, rather, have them figure out what is needed).

A standard in roasting is to cook the meat for 20 minutes per pound, plus an extra 20 minutes at the end. For you expert chef’s out there, I am sure you know there are many variations on this including taking the temperature of the meat, but for a 4th grader, a simple formula is a great way to start. We weighed the lamb (4.5 lbs) and then he started on the calculations. Mistakes were made in the process (we celebrate mistakes as opportunities to learn and discover what needs adjusting in the thought process). The final result? See the cooking instructions posted on the fridge from my son about when to put in the lamb and take it out.

The lamb was a little under done, but that was because I took it out 10 minutes early thinking it was done – his calculations were right on! It is even more empowering for a child to see adults make mistakes and own/celebrate them.

At We Teach Science we recruit mid-career STEM professionals and train them to become powerful mentors for our 7-10th grade students in California and Texas.

If you do some fun math projects over the holidays, please share them with us here by leaving a comment below …

Happy Holidays,

Aragon

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