Millionth tab

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My name is Reagan Niedan, and I teach fifth grade at Evergreen Elementary School. Three years ago, my students asked me "How much is a million?" That was a really good question! How many people have ever personally counted a million of anything? We discussed this together and decided to collect 1,000,000 pop can tabs. When we were finished, we would donate the whole collection to the Ronald McDonald House of Montreal. Once we had our Math goal and social goal sorted out, we got to work collecting and counting.

We first asked the school community to send in tabs with the students, but soon ran out of tabs. One can only drink so much soda, right? So we then asked the surrounding community. We were still counting faster than we were receiving tabs, so then we asked all schools within the LBPSB, and then all English schools in Quebec. Tabs came pouring in! We were well on our way to achieving our goals.

During the first year of the project, the students counted 357,000 tabs. First they counted 100 at a time and strung them on a string. Then we gathered ten bundles of 100 into a large bundle of 1000. We labelled each bundle, and then hung them from the ceiling, encircling our entire school! At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, my fifth graders trained the fourth graders to make the bundles so they would be prepared to participate when they came to me in grade five.

During the second year of the project, the tabs were arriving in small baggies and huge grocery bags, faster than we could count them! The new group of fifth graders counted 358,000 tabs, bringing our grand total to 715,000 tabs. We encircled the whole school a second time, and at the end of the year, my fifth graders trained the future fifth graders. 

At the start of this school year, we were told that we could no longer hang the tabs from the ceiling of the school for fear of the weight pulling it down. My students were amazed that so many tabs could be that heavy! We had to come up with another way of displaying the tabs. They decided on using the boxes used for packaging paper. The kids decorated each box, and filled each one with 20,000 to 23,000 tabs, still in bundles of 1000. We built a pyramid of 15 boxes containing 285,000 tabs in the front of the school. My present students counted the millionth tab on April 25th, nearly three years after the project began. Here is a link to our progress videos over the past three years. Here is the direct link to our Millionth tab


LCEEQ had offered a $100 book prize when the mission was accomplished to a class that joined in the cause, so now is time.

“We are in Grade 5 in Ms. Niedan's class at Evergreen. We finished counting 1,000,000 tabs on April 25th.  Ms. Niedan started counting with her students in November 2021. Many teachers in different schools helped us by sending tabs.
The winner of the LCEEQ contest is Catherine Patenaude from Terry Fox School -- congratulations!
We are going to bring all of the tabs to the Ronald McDonald House on June 12th. Thank you for your support!