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.

Crypt-ic Math

Engraving from Nathaniel Chickering's gravestone in Dover, MA.

Engraving from Nathaniel Chickering's gravestone in Dover, MA.

Ravens cawing, leaves crunching, wind howling, students sharing …Where? Dover Cemetery! Close to Halloween, 4th grade students walked to the center of town for their math class. Pencils and math packets in hand, groups of students ran around looking for graves with information they needed to answer the questions. During an interview with Mrs. Atkinson, she explained the  purpose for Cemetery Math. Cemetery Math is a fun way for students to have hands-on practice with math concepts and it ties into the upcoming holiday. She also explained that they have not made any changes, but will make some this year because the engraving, on gravestones, is wearing off with all the weather. 4th grade has been doing this field trip for 25 + years!
Here is an example of one of the questions:

Find Nathaniel Chickering’s grave.
1. When was he born?
2. When did he die?
3. How old was he when he died?

So the next time you walk through Dover Cemetery try to answer this question.

Reported by K.B., Madison A., and Elizabeth E.