Numbers! Numbers! . . . BOO!

Can you imagine going to a cemetery for math? Well, Chickering 4th graders do! Cemetery Math is a field trip the whole 4th grade goes on every year near Halloween. Cemetery math is a way to apply your math understanding in a real world setting.

Image of math problems in a packet used in Cemetery Math.When we arrived at the cemetery, you were allowed to work alone or with a group. We bet you are wondering what kind of math you can do in a cemetery. So were we when we heard about it. Well, we received a packet which had math problems in it. For example, we had to try to find the perimeter of a fence around a grave stone. We also had to find at least 4 people who died or were born on a leap year. We were surprised by how tall one of the trees were when we had to estimate the height of it.

Having to find Nathaniel Chickering’s grave was a tricky task.  Most of the Chickering graves were close together. The Chickering family were one of the first families to settle here in Dover.  They owned acres of land.  Image of one of the Chickering tombs in the Highland Cemetery, Dover, Massachusetts USASome of that land is now The Highland Cemetery*.  A lot of the Chickering family are buried in the tombs with large black doors. There are at least three plaques filled with Chickering names. But, Nathaniel Chickering is buried in the 1746 original burying ground*.

The artwork on other headstones were also very impressive.  One memorial had an elegant weeping willow engraved into its stone. The cemetery has an assortment of headstone shapes from the traditional rectangle to carefully carved curves. We were looking closely at the artwork in order to find an example of symmetry.

Tall Obelisk in the Highland Cementery.Now can you imagine going to a Cemetery for math? It was a very unusual field trip experience, especially on Halloween. But it would be nicer on a warmer day. Even though it was kind of cold, we still had a ton of fun!

  Reported by Ava B., Ellie, and Lauren

* Bertschy, Harry. The History of The Highland Cemetery. Dover, MA, 1997.

Digging Into Rocks and Minerals

Image of a blue geode with a small, smooth blue gem.Rocks and Minerals come in all different colors and are found all around the world, but the most interesting rocks and minerals are found in Mrs. McLaughlin’s classroom, at Chickering School. When we went behind the scenes of rocks and minerals we learned it was more than just rocks and minerals by getting all the answers from Mrs. McLaughlin, our science teacher.

All the science units are about seven weeks long or 14 lessons. Fourth grade students meet two times a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:45am, for science class.

Mrs. McLaughlin was a science major in college and her favorite subject was Rocks and Minerals. She took a course and studied a lot! She started thinking about being a teacher. She found a job at Chickering Elementary School in Dover, and she choose to be the science teacher for Rocks and Minerals. Being excited, she reviewed the content for the new science unit.

Geology is also taught in 7th grade at the Middle School. The large, white rock, with multiple, tiny holesRocks and Minerals unit leads easily into the study of Geology. Since the Earth is always changing, there are always new things to learn about rocks and minerals.

She loves how the students work together and share their observations. Pupils are very lucky to observe Rocks and Minerals close up and see all the cool colors, shapes and other exciting characteristics about Rocks and Minerals. Mrs. McLaughlin is waiting for the kids to become Geologists. She hopes children love rocks and minerals just as much as she does.

Mrs. McLaughlin does not find it hard to teach the unit. She actually sometimes thinks that she has to stop herself from teaching too much! Plus, her students already come in with a lot of knowledge of Rocks and Minerals that has made it even easier for her to teach the unit.

Bumpy rock with little, smooth rocks stuck to it. Also two smooth, shiny minerals.There are always new things to learn and discover with Rocks and Minerals. The best teacher for digging into Rocks and Minerals is Mrs. McLaughlin.  Lets dig into rocks and minerals!




Reported by Abby, Bethany, and Ryan

Autumn Math

Image of one of the Chickering tombs in the Highland Cemetery, Dover, Massachusetts USAWe will never forget the time, when  we walked to the Highland Cemetery in Dover Center, to participate in Cemetery Math. The day was not exactly freezing but it was cold; leaves started to fall as we walked. The whole fourth grade  walked to the Highland Cemetery on October 29, 2013, with clipboards and math packets in there hands. Everyone was excited and nervous to begin our adventure in a cemetery!

We wondered who created Cemetery Math, so we asked Mrs. Haggett. She said it started about 20 years ago or more at the Caryl School. The fourth grade teachers, including Mrs. Haggett, came up with the idea. The fourth grade teachers thought that the cemetery could be a way to show kids math in everyday life, not only math in school. Cemetery Math uses all sorts of math problems. Like using estimation to predict how tall the tallest tree is. The packet students were handed also included problems from all operations including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, estimation and symmetry. For example, ”find a pair of symmetric grave stones”. Another was to subtract the day the person was born from the day that the person died to figure how old the person was. The Chickering family grave and  Nathaniel Chickering’s grave were another challenge. The Chickerings were an important family to the town; they made many donations to the town, one from Nathaniel Chickering who in 1746 “bequeathed to the West Precinct of the Town of Dedham [Dover] the burying ground as it lyeth now within fence, to be for the use of the said precinct for a burying-place.”1

Cemetery math doesn’t just involve math, it also includes learning some of the history of Dover and observing autumn changes. If you saw something important you could write it down. For example, if you found a grave with a flag it might mean this person had been in a war or was a veteran. It was a fun way to apply some of our math skills and learn about an unusual place in our town. Who would believe there was math in a cemetery!

Reported Nicole and Derek

1 Bertschy, Harry. The History of The Highland Cemetery. Dover, MA, 1997.

Under the Sea

Image of a bottlenose dolphinWhat has fifty football field-long tentacles, pink, glows, and lives in the ocean? It’s a . . . siphonophore! One of the largest, unique, interesting creatures in the sea. One of many extraordinary animals we will be learning about in our Oceanography science unit.

We wondered why we study Oceanography so we had a conversation with Mr. Keohane, our science teacher. He explained that oceans are important to all life on Earth. Oceans need to be protected because they are a valuable resource for life.Image of harp seals

“Ooh! It’s so scary!” and “Look at this … it’s the craziest creature you have ever seen!” Are exclamations Mr. Keohane hears while his students begin researching their sea creature science project. Students are amazed by the adaptations made by the creatures from the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean.

Image of a sea otterWe were curious  to know how long Mr. Keohane has been teaching Oceanography and if the unit was assigned. He shared with us that he has been teaching Oceanography for 5 years and that he inherited the unit from the teacher for whom he took over. When he taught 3rd grade, the science topic was the Solar System. We were interested to know, if he could pick any science unit, what would it be. He stated he would like to teach engineering because he loves to build things. But he also loves Oceanography, too.

Do you have a favorite creature which relies on the ocean for its survival?Image of a hammerhead shark We got to choose and research our favorite creature that depends on the ocean. From Clownfish to Manatees, Mr. Keohane let each student use a number-assigned laptop and let us research our wonderful animals along with their habitats, adaptations, and other fun facts. Then the students would go and type their reports using the information they gathered from various websites about predators, how humans impact the creatures life, diet, and the effects of climate change. It was a blast to learn all about the incredible creatures which do live in and/or rely on the sea!

Reported by:  Katana, Olivia, Cyrus, and Zach


harp seal
Apter, Elaine. seal070.jpg. 12/25/1995. Pics4Learning. 25 Feb 2014 <>.
bottlenose dolphin
Folks, Tami. dolphin5.jpg. March 2004. Pics4Learning. 25 Feb 2014 <>
sea otter
Smith, Lucine. otter12.jpg. June 2007. Pics4Learning. 25 Feb 2014 <>
hammerhead shark
“Hammerhead Sharks.” PowerKnowledge Life Science. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2014 <>