Students Apply Math on Big Projects in Fair

A toothbrush, a Monopoly board and a box of Winchell's doughnuts are all part of the Math-O-Rama exhibit at the San Fernando Valley Fair's Youth Education Pavilion.

But this wasn't just any old toothbrush or doughnut box, but large replicas--sometimes 10 times their normal size--made by junior high mathematics students.

The exhibit features the "spectacular results" of Patrick Henry Middle School students' math projects, said Sheila Berman, math department chairwoman.

"It is a tremendous amount of work and it allows students to use math on a real level," said Berman, who also teaches eighth-grade math and algebra at the Granada Hills school. "And you look at some students you never thought would do much better and they do a great job. It's like, 'ah ha.' "

The Math-O-Rama program, in its 13th year, was created to allow students to put their math skills to creative use, Berman said. Students must measure the item they plan to replicate and make it on a larger scale with paper, wood, felt cloth or anything else they can find, Berman said.

"Then we keep the best of the best over the years and show them here," Berman said. "It creates a legacy. The older students will have their projects shown for many years and it helps other students get new ideas for their projects."

Other items featured at this year's fair include a pink eraser, a pack of Wrigley's spearmint gum and a box of Q-Tips. This year's grand prize winner, the Monopoly board, was also on display.

Darya Stewart, 15, of Granada Hills, came to visit her former math teacher and peak in on her prize-winning toothbrush.

"It was fun to make it," said Darya, who worked on it with a classmate for a week. "I am a tooth freak and I just picked to do a toothbrush."

The more than 5-foot-high toothbrush, with drinking straws for bristles, won Darya first prize in her class.

"It was more fun than algebra," she said.

The fair runs through Sunday at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.

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