Stratford students aim to collect 1 million beverage can tabs for learning, charity

The math coach said she was looking for a different way to teach place value and decided to integrate the tabs into her lessons.

Marissa Alter

May 2, 2023, 11:51 PM

Updated 347 days ago


What started as a math project at Eli Whitney Elementary School in Stratford will end in an act of charity.
The school began collecting beverage can tabs in November, with the goal of donating one million tabs to the Ronald McDonald House fundraising program. The effort is spearheaded by Jessica Scandurra, the math coach at Eli Whitney. Scandurra said she was looking for a different way to teach place value and decided to integrate the tabs into her lessons.
“One of my things I’m really passionate about is that in order to do math, kids need to see the math. They need to see numbers beyond just the digit and to be able to understand the quantity,” Scandurra explained.
On Tuesday, News 12 visited the classroom of Eli Whitney first-grade teacher Kim Cody, who said her students love using the tabs to learn.
“It's been a great project because there's a purpose for it. We're not just counting because it's math time, and we're practicing. It's a community kind of project. We're doing it for a purpose, and I think that's really made a huge difference. The kids are always engaged, they enjoy doing it, and we kind of tie it in to whatever math unit we're working on,” Cody said. “It's also been a great tool because some kids are already at an abstract level where they can just look at the numbers and add them together, but other kids actually need something concrete.”
Every grade uses the tabs in different mathematical ways that are relevant to what they’re learning, according to Scandurra.
In Cody’s class, as students count the tabs, they bundle them into groups of 100, which Scandurra puts on a bulletin board in the hall. Once the board is filled with 10,000 tabs, those are tied together and displayed above the board. Scandurra said when classes walk by, they often stop and talk about the tabs.
“They’ll ask questions like, ‘How many more until the next thousand? How many more until the next 10,000? How many more to a million?’ And they're getting much better at figuring those things out,” Scandurra explained.
“I can't believe how much they've learned. We are far beyond first-grade standards, and it's kind of just happened kind of organically through this project,” added Cody.
Scandurra said the tab collection effort expanded beyond the school to the entire school district in March bringing the total so far to about 250,000. She hopes the public will get involved, too, and help them reach their goal faster.
Tabs can be dropped off at a bin outside Eli Whitney or donated at any other Stratford elementary school.

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