Extra Credit: If I had a hammer

By Kym Clark - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis City schools 5th graders were treated to a "revolutionary" math program before classes let out for the summer. The partnership between the district, Streets Ministries, and "If I Had A Hammer" taught students much more than how to add and subtract.

"We learned how to work together and how to not sit around," said rising 6th grader Kerrico Rufus. "And help each other out."

And while the students designed and built their 1/4 inch scale dream homes together, someone also snuck in a math lesson complete with fractions and measurement.

"If I Had Hammer" founder Perry Wilson, who had a learning disability as a child, said he struggled with math until he became a carpenter as an adult.

"So many kids, even making straight A's, don't understand the application of mathematics so this is an applied math program that we do everywhere," Wilson explained. "I'm trying to show them how numbers are attached to something that's real," he added.

The New York Times dubbed Wilson's program "one of the top new education programs in the country."

Ken Bennett, Executive Director of Streets Ministries where the some of the houses were built, said it was a natural extension of his inner city ministry.

"We joined forces with "If I Had A Hammer" and Memphis City School System to address some of the practical mathematical issues in the school system as kids struggle or excel to do well in math," said Bennett.

University of Memphis mens basketball coach Josh Pastner, who knows a thing or two about teamwork himself, got into the act as well, adding his own lessons about drop-out prevention and setting goals to attend college, along with a little sweat equity in the project.

Pastner added, "It allows something for these young kids to put their energies towards, instead of violence, drugs and alcohol and staying away from gangs."

"If I Had A Hammer" has gone to more than 100 cities in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico and more than 500,000 children have participated.

If you have an idea for Extra Credit, please send Kym and email to: extracredit@wmctv.com.

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