Ready, set, apply


Photo by Fe Valencia

Junior Celeste Barajas is winding up the car for a practice run on the track. The goal is to keep the car inside the track.

Upon walking into classrooms K-9 and K-3, you will notice there is not a teacher addressing the class.
This does not mean there is not any instruction given in these classes, nor does it signify a neglecting teacher. Small groups of students are scattered throughout the classroom, talking amongst themselves, working amongst themselves.

As of next year, the amount of multiple choice tests will be greatly minimized. This eliminates the “plug-in” method that many students rely on to answer those seemingly impossible questions.
No more crossing out the obviously wrong and picking the more likely of the answers you can not decide on. Common Core will be enforced and integrated into everything we do.

Because of this huge step, teachers have begun preparing students for this new way of learning. Yet, math teachers have taken it a step further.

This is the mousetrap project. Some classes are making their cars run a straight track and the others are working with a circular path. The cars are made of a mousetrap, planks of wood, disks for wheels and so on. Each group is given $10 for additional materials, but what they use is their choice.

Kevin Johnson, sophomore, said, “Sometimes it’s stressing.” His group, like many other groups, has been working on ensuring his vehicle turns properly and the deceleration won’t leave the car stranded in the middle of the doughnut shaped track. Though the building is not the only thing they have to concern themselves with.

Tiffani Zermeno, senior, said “As we modify it, we have to change the math accordingly.” Math must accompany the car to prove their alterations. This in itself becomes extremely complicated and many times few of the groups completely understand and find the correct answers.

Though this is a competition, the students in each class are united in a way. Working together to make their cars better and the overall calm atmosphere within the classrooms has been observed by the teacher.
“They don’t seem to be taking this as an aggressive competition,” said Kathy Sady, one of the teachers participating in the project.

Students can be seen observing others’ cars to see how they can modify theirs and offering bits of advice to those who are making the same mistakes they had. However, they all treat it as a competition. They all want their car to be better. They all want to receive the best grade. They all want to win.

To make the best model they can, they observe real race cars. Basing their models and building off of the most aerodynamic cars, they improve the functionality of their own. This is the main idea of Common Core, using what you learn in school in the real world. This is the start of something new, this is the start pistol in the race to achieve.