WASHINGTON TERRACE -- Jodi Ford was searching for a way to bring math out of the textbooks and into the real world for her students at T.H. Bell Junior High School.
She found her inspiration close to home, in the classic monster truck she and her husband own.
"I realized they could measure the truck and gather information, and use their findings to do math problems," Ford said. "It would make it more real if they could see it and touch it."
So, Legend, as the monster truck is named, followed Ford to school on Wednesday, riding on its own flatbed truck.
"I could sleep inside those tires," said Alex Murphy, 12, of Riverdale. "I could live inside those tires."
Alex and several other students pushed the 66-inch-tall, 43-inch-wide spare tire around once to discover its circumference was 15 feet.
A few feet away, students guided a small measuring wheel once around Legend, a truck that weighs in at 15,200 pounds and is nearly 12 feet tall.
"Measure all the way back around," called Ford's husband, Steve "Big Stevo" Ford. "Don't make the box too small to hold my truck."
Across the parking lot, children ran the 300 feet that Legend can travel on 1 gallon of gas.
Follow-up math lessons will ask students to determine how much gas would be needed to drive a parade route of a given length. And the kids will practice finding averages by working with the amount of time, on three runs, it took a tiny Hot Wheel monster truck to finish a simple downward track.
"I wasn't so much interested in monster trucks, but I'm getting to that point now," said Jessica Smith, 12, of Riverdale.
Her friend, Madison Wright, agreed.
"It's pretty awesome to bring a monster truck to school to teach us math," said the 12-year-old from Riverdale. "It does make math a lot more interesting."
Jodi Ford wasn't a monster truck fan either, until 13 years ago, when her bridegroom suggested they attend a monster truck show while on their Florida honeymoon.
Legend sparked to life in 1983 and was given its original name, Bigfoot III, by maker Bob Chandler. It made its debut at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1984, sporting eight tires.
It was the last of Chandler's Bigfoot series to be made from an ordinary truck. Later models carried roll bars and specialized features.
As Bigfoot III, the monster truck appeared in the movie "Police Academy 2" and was featured in monster truck magazines and videos.
Bigfoot III disappeared in 2000, after its heyday, and resurfaced briefly with the name of Dixie Thumper. Steve Ford spent six years following leads and trying to locate his favorite truck. When it turned up in Alabama, he brought Legend home and gave it a dignified retirement.
The monster truck rarely makes appearances, Steve Ford said. He doesn't want to destroy a now-fragile piece of history by running it to the grocery store. Then there's the cost of gas. Legend, which boasts original parts except the sheet metal, has its own website, www.legendmonster.com.
But Steve Ford has taken the truck for visits to his sons' schools, and Legend came to T.H. Bell in 2007 as part of a television news story.
Jodi Ford had a commemorative photo snapped of each of her classes gathered around the truck. Most of the kids could have walked under the vehicle without stooping.
Monster Math Day calculations and testing were scheduled for today, with quiz questions likely on mileages and more. Legend will go back into storage, but Steve Ford gave each child a small photo of the monster truck so the math inspiration can continue.