SPRING HILL — Dylan Selfors counted paper pizza slices with Pizza Hut representative Patty Paolillo. The 6-year-old Westside Elementary School first-grader was rewarded for his effort with a real pizza slice at the school's Edible Math Night, held recently in the school's cafeteria.
It was a tasty event, featuring crackers, candy, fruit, cookies and, of course, math, organized by Westside Title 1 parent educator Stacie Wharton. The students seemed very willing to work for M&M's and Skittles — counting, sorting and graphing them.
There were several tables among which students and their families circulated. Some were funded by money collected through the General Mills box tops program. Others were the donations of businesses that sent treats and representatives to work with the children.
The Timber Pines Winn-Dixie manager, Nicole Barrow, had a table with a big Make-a-Meal chart. Students were shown four items offered free with a purchase and asked to add up the savings. When they were done, they received packages of cookies. Parents got coupons.
The Pinehurst Publix sent customer service representative Kaitlin Dilluvio, who provided fruit and chocolate for weighing and estimations. Next to her table, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union service representative Kandice Sanderson was encouraging students to choose three candy pieces and add up their costs. Older students used play money to figure out the change they would get after their purchases.
Several other tables were staffed by teachers. Fourth-grade teacher Melissa Tomlinson focused on Rice Krispies treats.
"They're figuring out how to make changes to our Rice Krispies recipe," she said.
Kindergarten teacher Glenda Vasquez had students adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing chocolate graham cracker bears.
Mariana Selfors, Dylan's mother, appreciated the opportunity for her son to come to school and enjoy math.
"I think it's a very good idea," she said. "It's a fun way to learn."
Kristin Piccirilli was there with her youngest son, fourth-grader Anakin Piccirilli, 10. Anakin said math is his favorite subject. Adding snacks made it that much better. And he thought it was a good idea.
"It involves learning and spending time with your family," he said.
His mother couldn't agree more.
"It's a good activity to exercise the brain," she said. "Since he likes math, it's fun for us to be here."
Dylan said his favorite part of the event was the candy, particularly the M&M's. But, even as a first-grader, he recognized the value of the lessons.
"Because it helps you with math," he said. "Makes you learn a lot."