One of the best things your child can do for the environment is help you save gas. Here's a fun and rewarding competition that will have your child applying what she knows about Earth science and math to help the planet and your wallet.
What You Do:
- Begin by giving your fourth grader a lesson in “gasoline basics.” Show her your car's odometer and explain how many miles you get per tank of gas. Next, tell her the cost for one gallon of gas and have her calculate how much it costs to fill your tank.
- Present your child with the “Gas Guzzlers” challenge—and don't forget to explain the rewards. For one week, your fourth grader will chart the number of miles she is driven to and from school, extracurricular activities and anywhere else. Have her write down the date, time, and beginning and ending mileage every time she is driven.
- Next, tell your fourth grader that for the second week, she will continue to chart her mileage and try to decrease the number of miles she is driven by 10 percent. For example, if her mileage totals 100, she should aim to decrease the total by 10 miles. Discuss some ways she can cut her mileage, like carpooling, walking or riding a bike (when appropriate), taking public transportation with a parent and cutting out unnecessary trips.
- Motivate your child to take the “Gas Guzzlers” challenge by rewarding her with a small prize for every mile she saves during the second week, along with a bonus for meeting the 10 percent goal. Continue to encourage your child to do her part in saving fuel by rewarding her each week she maintains the 10 percent decrease. After a few weeks, challenge her to cut her mileage by another 10 percent and continue to offer rewards!
- Integrate math into the activity by helping your child calculate the money she is saving the family by decreasing her mileage. If your car gets 15 miles per gallon and she has decreased her weekly mileage by 10 miles, the cost savings is nearly $4 per week, $16 per month and $184 per year.
The money your fourth grader saves you at the pump could be earning her money in a savings account!
Brigid Del Carmen has a Master's Degree in Special Education with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders/Emotional Impairments. Over the past eight years, she has taught Language Arts, Reading and Math in her middle school special education classroom.