On Tuesday, students in Jermaine Bowe’s honors math class got the chance to hear and ask questions from one runner, Corey Divel, Cleveland city planner, as he and others travel to the Massachusetts city on foot to show their support for victims of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.
With runners making the trip over some 1,000 miles, Divel said “literally hundreds of hours” have gone into planning the run. On Saturday, 26 runners will leave from Lee University with plans to travel through multiple states and arrive in Boston eight days later. A Lee alumna living in the Washington, D.C., also plans to join the runners when they pass through the nation’s capital.
In addition to the logistics of getting “26 and a half” runners
to Boston on time, the event has required a lot of planning and factoring in largely unknown variables like weather and terrain.
“Are you getting how big this project is for them?” Bowe asked his students.
The teacher said he always likes to have his students complete “hands-on” projects rather than just normal math worksheets. When he learned about the Run Now Relay, he decided he wanted the students to be involved with it as well by crunching numbers and presenting what they find.
The students will be completing their own project to use math skills like figuring out unit rates, making scale drawings and finding scale factors, ratios and proportions. As they tackle the math problems, they will also be learning about the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing, the cities through which the runners will be running and what needs to be considered when planning such a long run.
Divel made sure the students knew what had inspired the relay. He said the running community as a whole was hit hard by the April 2013 bombing, and many across the country began looking for ways to help.
He pointed out that the bombers chose to hurt people in the stands of the marathon rather than on the road itself, so the bombing did not just affect runners.
“They didn’t just target the runners; they targeted their families,” Divel said.
He said the act hit him and many others way too close to home. Divel said he is used to seeing his wife and children on the sidelines cheering him on when he runs, and he does “shudder” at the thought that someone was cruel enough to target families.
Local runners decided to raise money to help Boston charities and help the families get back on their feet.
The Run Now Relay is planning to support two charities that help children who are either disadvantaged by economic situations or physical limitations, Dream Big and the One Step Ahead Foundation.
Dream Big helps girls who are homeless or living in low-income households have the chance to play sports by being provided with sports equipment and opportunities to play. Divel said not all students have the opportunity to play sports in school like some of the Lake Forest students do.
The One Step Ahead Foundation helps boys and girls with physical disabilities get the resources they need to take part in a variety of sports and recreational activities. Divel told the students one thing One Step Ahead does is help children who need them get quality prosthetic arms and legs. He explained they are very expensive, and kids can outgrow prosthetics just like they do clothes.
While there are a lot of interesting facts and figures to be considered when mapping out a run from Cleveland to Boston, Divel said he wanted to make sure everyone knew why the run was taking place — to help. The runners are currently working toward a goal of raising $50,000 to be split between the two organizations.
He then fielded students’ questions about the Run Now Relay. One student asked what kind of roads they would be running. He said it would mostly be secondary roads rather than major interstates, but it remains to be seen how challenging the routes will be.
“We’re not just running on the Greenway,” Divel said. “We’re running through the mountains of Virginia.”
Taking into account a running pace of 6 mph, the runners will take to the road one at a time while other team members and supporters follow in vehicles on the road. If someone runs faster, that may help the runners get to their destination faster. If someone is running up a steep hill or having an otherwise difficult time, they may travel slower.
Factors like weather, dark nights with minimal visibility, injury and other things could all potentially affect the group’s ability to stay on schedule. As far as weather goes, Divel said he expects the runners will keep running rain or shine — “unless there’s a tornado or something.”
The middle school math students will take those things into consideration as they complete their projects.
Bowe has asked them to use their math knowledge 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 will work in groups to write papers discussing the Boston Marathon bombing, what the Run Now Relay is, what two chosen runners accomplished each day and information about the cities the runners will be visiting. Groups are also required to create and answer their own math equations related to unit rates, scale drawings, scale factors, ratios and proportions. They will also be creating decoupage art pieces depicting the journey of the race.
Finally, students will write a summary to attempt to answer the essential question.
Bowe said the class will be following the runners’ journey throughout, and there would be no shortage of information available for them to sift through. While it may seem odd to incorporate things like writing and art into a math class, he said it is believed that students better remember what they learn when they are asked to complete such things in addition to traditional math problems.
The teacher said the students would be getting a head start on their calculations before the runners leave town and begin researching the cause, something that is “equally important” to the student projects.
“Yeah, it’s math, but the essential question ties directly into their cause,” Bowe said.
Students will present the results of their projects after the runners return home.
Divel said after the bell rang for students to head to lunch that he hoped Bowe’s students would not just see the Run Now Relay as just a group of runners covering a bunch of miles. He said it will be about them overcoming the challenges they will face and supporting charities that help children overcome theirs as well.
His hope is students learn it’s not about stopping when getting hit by an unexpected difficulty; it’s about picking oneself up and running again.