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Daily STEM – Using Algebra to Solve Real-World Challenges

By January 20, 2022Grace News
Lily's Toy Box

In today’s era of technological innovation, students need to gain knowledge and STEM skills to solve complex problems, gather and evaluate evidence. It is critical that they can make sense of the information they study and be prepared for the careers and challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Students develop and strengthen these skills by studying STEM subjects.

In Algebra 1, our eighth-grade students are creating a function to help Lily’s Toy Box, a non-profit organization founded by Lily D., Class of 2023, schedule volunteers each year to wrap gifts. Students have timed each other wrapping gifts, including downtime, and using this data to build an equation for any number of donated gifts.

“Algebra is the foundation for students’ future success in STEM,” said Amy McAfee, Algebra 1 teacher. “It is essential for my students to see people using Algebra in many parts of everyday life and to understand how it can be used to solve real-life problems.

Using STEM Skills to Help Lily’s Toy Box

Grace School students provided Lily’s Toy Box with a comparison of purchasing toys wholesale versus retail. They also analyzed how much she could save from this practice. In the end, students will research the fees associated with PayPal and Venmo for non-profits and provide Lily’s Toy Box with the data they need for the most cost-effective approach to managing donation collections each year.

The founder of Lily’s Toy Box, Lily Dubose, is a seventh-grade student at Grace School. In August 2017, Lily and her mother Jessica were sheltering-in-place during Hurricane Harvey, watching the news as families quickly evacuated their homes around Houston. Lily saw all the kids on TV fleeing their homes and offered to donate her toys to kids who lost everything.

“When Lily offered to donate her Lego set, I knew she was serious about this because that was her most prized possession at that time,” said Jessica Dubose, Lily’s mom.

More people learned about Lily’s toy donation and offered to donate toys. As the donations grew, Lily’s Toy Box became an official 501C3 non-profit organization. Each Christmas, Lily’s Toy Box will wrap brand new toys and donate them to children in need in the Houston area. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, Lily’s Toy Box delivers toys each week leading up to Christmas so every child can receive a gift.

“We never expected to grow this immensely, this fast,” Jessica said. “It still shocks me at how far we have come from where we started.”

By creating hands-on STEM learning experiences in Middle School, our students initiate purposeful change and commit to serving others.


About Grace School
Grace School is a private, Christian school in Houston, Texas serving students from ages 20 months through Grade 8. Uniquely combining a faith-based STEM curriculum, Grace School fosters an environment where children develop the skills and mindsets to become compassionate innovators, problem solvers, creators, and changemakers.