Jermaine Bowe, who teaches the seventh-grade honors math class, was looking for a way to involve his students in calculating numbers that were related to real-life things rather than just completing equations found in books.
What resulted was a set of student projects that involved math, science, English and art to teach students about both current events and math, using the example of 26 local runners who recently make the trek to Boston in an effort to show support for the victims of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.
The students presented the results of the project in front of a crowd of families, friends and Run Now Relay runners in the school’s library Tuesday night.
“I did this to show my kids that there’s a world bigger than Cleveland,” Bowe said as he began to explain what the project entailed.
He had given his students the assignment of using their math and research skills to evaluate the effectiveness of the Run Now Relay and answer one essential question: “In what ways do you think the Run Now Relay event was successful in showing compassion and bringing a message of hope to the victims, their families and the nation?”
Students were divided into groups to discussing the Boston Marathon bombing, what the Run Now Relay was, what runners accomplished each day and what sights the runners would be seeing in various cities along the way.
Groups also had to create and answer their own math equations related to unit rates, scale drawings, scale factors, ratios and proportions.
At the end of the project, students were to write papers giving their personal reflections and create art pieces to tell the story of the Run Now Relay visually.
During the journey, which took place last month, Bowe and the students would track the runners’ journey each day in class and discuss what factors they needed to include in their math calculations. For example, factors like weather had the potential to affect the speed at which they ran.
“While we were trying to track them, their eyes never left the screen,” Bowe said.
Presenters representing each student group spoke to those gathered in the library Tuesday night to piece together the story of what happened in Boston and why the runners from Cleveland decided to help.
Madison Colgan gave a summary of the Boston attack, and Jessica McCormick spoke about how the relay run plan began.
Student Kate Gwaltney told the story of a woman who lost both of her legs and had to work hard to learn to walk and run again on prosthetics.
Logan Colbaugh told the stories of two brothers who both fell victim to the attack and had to encourage each other to recover.
Bowe paused to remind the audience that, though many of the victims sustained injuries, three also lost their lives.
Student Shelby Beasley told the story of what the parents who lost their young son in the bombing went through.
While the students could calculate things like distance and speed, they couldn’t calculate things like the experiences of the runners themselves, Bowe said.
That’s why he said he was about to introduce two of the runners, Britney Cooke and Matt Ryerson, who were there to talk about the Run Now Relay.
Ryerson said he was thankful for the support the people of Cleveland showed the runners as they traveled to Boston.
“Everything you did here in Cleveland traveled with us,” he said.
While the effort had been the result of a tragic event, Ryerson said the runners got to see “the best of the country” and the kindness of strangers who did things like donate money to the two charities the runners had been supporting.
The runners were ultimately able to raise “just over” $65,000, exceeding their initial $50,000 goal, he added.
Cooke reiterated what he said about being thankful for the support of people back home. She said the Run Now Relay was successful because of the people who supported it both with encouraging words and with money.
“We were just pounding the pavement and taking money up,” Cooke said. “It wasn’t really about us. It was the spirit of this community.”
After the speeches, guests at the event perused an exhibit of all the students’ art pieces, and some chose to present their pieces to runners as gifts.
Bowe said he was proud of everyone involved with the project, and he is planning “bigger and better” ones for the fall semester.