Germantown Friends School youngsters seek a half-ton of pasta (for a good cause)

The 1,000 Pounds of Pasta Challenge has Germantown Friends School students from kindergarten to the 5th grade collecting spaghetti, rigatoni, shells, ziti and all types of noodles for a great cause.

This is the result of The Great Food Fight!, a food drive that benefits Philabundance, which has challenged 21 area schools to come up with a project that will generate food for families in the area.

GFS teacher Susan Shechtman came up with the pasta challenge and included an educational element: students are asked to solve pasta-related math problems.

For instance, Shechtman has comprised noodle-specific word problems including, “If the first grade brought in two pounds of pasta on Monday and they doubled that amount each day, how many pounds would they have in all by Friday?”

(You can answer in the comments if you think you’re smarter than a second grader).

Pasta learning is fundamental

A display at the school features a floor-to-ceiling bar graph on the wall that keeps track of pasta-pounds gathered. Students have piled the boxes in 10-pound stacks.

“I wanted something special that the little kids could really grab onto,” said Shechtman. “They all eat pasta, no matter the culture or their fussiness about eating. It’s in lots of their lunches each day.”

Shechtman said GFS families have taken the project to heart.

“GFS has always valued and supported the giving of food to our Philadelphia neighbors in need,” said Shechtman. “The idea of pounds of food entered our thinking: What is easy to weigh? What is a food that everyone likes? What is affordable and filling? One thousand pounds of pasta felt like a worthy goal.”

Will they win?

Last year, GFS won the $10,000 first place prize, even as they were up against the much-larger Penncrest High School.

The 2011 rules calculated a winner based on the amount food brought in per-student, which gave GFS an edge to win despite their small size. However, this year a winner will be determined based on the overall amount of food, regardless of the number of students.

With one week to go, the second grade class is leading the school with their collection of 405 pounds of pasta. The contest ends this Friday and the school is following a new buzzword, coined from a second grader who said, “It’s not IMPASTABLE to reach the 1,000-pound goal.”

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