Earlier this month, ROCS science educator, Bethany Filipow, led students through a week-long celebration of the pawpaw.
Those unfamiliar with the state fruit of Ohio, which ripens in the fall, can learn more about its rising popularity through this recent NPR story.
Learning to identify, harvest, and process this wild fruit offered students a connection to the natural world and the food they eat that would be hard to find in the produce section of the grocery story. This unit of study demonstrates the kind of integrated, real-world learning we value at Red Oak.
After reviewing some of the basic facts they learned about pawpaws last fall, students practiced skills related to prediction, observation, and documentation to record the weight, length, circumference, and number of seeds in pawpaws they examined.
Students began by recording predictions on data sheets (see below, left). Next they found the actual measurements using rulers and scales.
Afterwards, some students created number sentences to find the difference between their estimation and actual result. They also hiked to our parking area to observe and sketch the pawpaw patch on our school property (see below, top right).
Next, students dissected and processed pawpaws for use.
They separated the skins, pulp, and seeds. The skins were composted while the seeds were used as math manipulatives and will eventually become beads for jewelry.
Wednesday was production and marketing day.
Students made their "pawsicles" (pawpaw popsicles) and came up with flavor names - Tropical Explosion, Blueberry Crush, and Banana Splash.
Our older students determined a sliding scale price of $1-3 per frozen treat. They also computed the initial investment of frozen fruit (which was added to the pawpaw pulp) and plastic cups of $12 which would have to be subtracted from their sales to obtain the true profit. They created posters and went through cash register training, practicing making change.
As the week came to an end, Bethany led students into the woods to plant some of the pawpaw seeds. We hope one day we'll have more trees on the school property to pick from.
The week ended with a the pawsicles sale. The students sold out and made a total profit of $107.90! This included the sale of some surplus pawpaws at $.10/oz, which was not only a bargain price for customers, but a nice round figure for converting weight to cost.
Our next task is for the students to decide how would they like to spend our money. Come back to the ROCS blog for updates!