SOUTH ORANGE, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — What better way to learn math, than with a fun activity.

On Thursday, CBS2’s Dana Tyler watched as some New Jersey students got the lesson of a lifetime from counting crayons.

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Like most first graders, the students at Marshall Elementary School in South Orange are used to coloring with crayons, but not necessarily counting with them.

“They’ve learned about sorting and sizing and counting,” teacher Stephanie Rotondo said.

Counting is a key skill to learn in the first grade, but there was a bigger lesson behind Thursday’s activity, explained Laura Overdeck with the educational organization Bedtime Math.

“The crayons we collected will be melted down to make new crayons for kids in children’s hospitals,” Overdeck said.

In conjunction with a national group — The Crayon Initiative, which recycles unwanted crayons into unlimited possibilities — students in 100 New Jersey elementary schools have donated their old crayons. The group estimates roughly 40 pounds of crayons per school have been collected.

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“Which will make 160,000 new crayons for kids,” Overdeck said.

“This is what we call a ‘feel good initiative’ because it allows children to be good to the earth, to explore math in various ways, and to help children in need,” Bonita Samuels explained.

In return the top ten schools donating the most crayons get their choice of a prize.

“A drone, a 3D printer, or a telescope,” Imy Houseworth said.

More than 500,000-lbs of broken crayons, which are not biodegradable, are discarded in landfills each year. The Crayon Initiative collects them from schools and restaurants.

 

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