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Ratio Project: Sixth Grade Math and BCIL Solve a Puzzle Together
by Cierra Campbell, Middle School BCIL Innovator and Collaborator

Over the years, the Ratio Project has taken different forms, but has remained a beloved tradition and a rite of passage in the eyes of many middle schoolers. This year, although students were away from campus and separated from their peers, the tradition continued—with a twist!

In collaboration with the Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership, Ms. Sandler and Mr. Arriarán transformed this year’s Ratio Project in a way that supported students in building and reinforcing their math skills through hands-on creation and fun, while also developing the BCIL Core Leadership Skills. For this year’s Ratio Project, students each created a scaled-up puzzle piece, with graphic design centered around finding solutions to challenges raised by COVID-19. 

To begin the project, students used divergent thinking skills to brainstorm in groups a list of these challenges, which ranged from shortages of hospital beds and vaccines to cancelled sports practices and closed businesses. They then used convergent thinking skills to choose a challenge to research and problem solve together as a group. Students looked into ways that their chosen issue was already being addressed, and came up with their own creative solutions to the challenges. Sienna H. ’27 noted, “...something valuable to me in this project was collaborating with my fellow classmates and brainstorming problems and solutions to things occurring during COVID-19. We used teamwork to figure out solutions to real problems.”

As students entered the hands-on phase of the project, they measured their original puzzle pieces, scaled their measurements up by a factor of eight, and drew and cut their enlarged piece from cardboard. They learned to measure twice (or more!) and cut once, work slowly and patiently for precision, and problem solve when their puzzle piece included difficult angles. After several days of hard and rewarding work, students had similar comments to Devyn S. ’27, who reported that she is “proud of my math skills and how far I have come...I feel confident in my project”!

To wrap it all up, literally and figuratively, students covered their new puzzle pieces in paper and designed visual representations of the solutions they brainstormed to tackle the real world challenges raised by COVID-19. Each individual added their own unique design style as they chose colors, images, and words to most effectively express their solutions. Once assembled, this puzzle will be a beautiful representation of students’ teamwork, perseverance, learning, and individuality all coming together. As Minerva H. ’27 said, now that 6th Grade students are back on campus, they are excited to put their final pieces “all together at school. I can’t wait to see them combined and to learn about the other solutions my fellow students came up with!” 

Even while they were apart, Brentwood students demonstrate the power of community and what can be accomplished when they work together. The Ratio Project continues to keep students connected and engaged with their learning, with each other, and with the world around them. 

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