National Geographic : 1992 Mar
What do graffiti and math have in common? Just ask Joseph Sweeney, a teacher in District 30 at Intermediate School 145 in Jackson Heights, New York. His innovative program, Graffiti Busters, is helping students develop community spirit and math skills at the same time. In addition to removing graffiti around the school intheir spare time, the students have taken on an even bigger challenge. "Our goal' explains Joseph, "isto find a permanent solution to the problem of graffiti' With the help of mathematics, the stu dents are doing just that. They conducted a survey of their 1700 fellow students on the problem of graffiti. The survey results indi cated that easy access to spray paint was one of the main reasons the graffiti problem was so bad. Using their math skills, they organ ized this data into a series of bar graphs, charts, and statistics. Their goal: a state law banning the sale of spray paint to minors. In March of 1991, they made their case before a New York State Senate Hearing. Their compelling testimony earned them the respect and praise of the Senate com mittee members. "Math is no longer an abstract notion for my students' says Joseph. "They've seen how it can be used to help make the world a better place in which to live:' State Farm is honored to present Joseph with our Good Neighbor Award. We are also delighted to make a contribution of $5,000 to I.S. 145 in his name. Joseph Sweeney- another example of how great teachers can also be good neighbors. STATE FARM INSURAN CE STATEFARMINSURANCECOMPANIES HomeOffices:Bloomington, Illinois The Good Neighbor Award was developed incooperation with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).