Alum teaches fifth-graders math using WKU homecoming

Adrianna Waters

A Western Kentucky University alum created a math project for his fifth-grade students, inspired by WKU’s homecoming events.

Robert Brown, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Parks City Elementary School in Glasgow, graduated from WKU in December of 2015 with a major in elementary education.

Brown said he loves WKU and wanted to incorporate its events into his classroom, so when homecoming was coming up, he decided to integrate it into their current unit on real-world multiplication and division problems.

To begin the day, Brown played the WKU fight song and had the words on a screen so students could sing along. He briefly talked about homecoming at WKU before assigning the project, which he said his students were “stoked” to begin.

Students were assigned to find seats for their family for the WKU homecoming game at Houchens Industries- L.T. Smith Stadium, with Brown changing the pricing of tickets slightly to challenge their math skills. Additionally, they were to buy one entrée, one side, and one drink at the concession stand and visit the gift shop.

However, Brown applied the project to the real-world to make students responsible with a pretend budget of $750 per ticket.

Because each student had a different number of people in their family, their answers were not the same, and they had to adjust their choices accordingly. According to Brown, students with a larger family stayed under budget by either buying cheaper seats or limiting the number of family members they brought.

At the end of the project, students presented their data and double-checked their work with a calculator. Then, they discussed how their work could be related to real-life problems.

According to Brown, the students enjoyed the project, mostly because it was about WKU and football.

Brown said he loves WKU and is “always on the lookout” to incorporate WKU in the classroom.

“WKU means a life-changing opportunity to me,” said Brown. “It gave me the chance to pursue my passion and make a difference in the lives of children.”

Brown had originally taken two and a half years off from WKU while working and starting a family. However, he went back in the spring of 2011 because he knew he wanted to teach.

Although Brown didn’t picture himself being involved at WKU, he became a Highlander, which is WKU’s Glasgow campus Student Ambassador group. Brown said Doing so allowed him to open up to new people and enrich his people skills.

While at WKU, Brown said that he had several mentors, and “almost everyone” helped him become successful. Additionally, he credits his wife, Cody Brooke Brown, for supporting him while he finished school.

While teaching at Park City Elementary School, Brown encourages building a rapport with students by building trust and being friendly. In addition to teaching, Brown is the coach of Park City Elementary School’s Future Problem Solving team.

“The kids need you,” said Brown. “You need the kids. They have some awesome things to share. Most kiddos know way more than we give them credit for.”

Reporter Adrianna Waters can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].