Dermans Contribute to Lowering Student Stress

Sarah Chen and Nikki Prasad

As students are settling down into schoolwork, stuffed dinosaurs have also been settling down in math classrooms. The multicolor plushies were originally purchased for fun, but have gained massive school-wide appeal. Since last year, Precalculus classes have slowly been acquiring dinosaur stuffed animals and naming them Derman in reference to the beloved math textbook character.  

The appearance of Dermans started when Precalculus teachers recognized the positive impact having Dermans in the classroom had on students. 

“Originally, Derman was a large stuffed dinosaur that I got last year that my students wanted to meet in person. So I decided to buy an ‘in school’ version. He then became so popular that many other math teachers decided to purchase their own Dermans, so we have a yellow one, a pink one, and a blue one,” Michaela Tracy, a Lexington High School math teacher, said.

Many students were already familiar with the Derman from their work in math class using textbooks, so it wasn’t a surprise the stuffed dinosaur was named “Derman.”

“Derman is one of the characters who works with Tony and Sasha on math problems. My students really identified with Derman last year so they voted to name the dinosaur Derman,” Tracy said. 

Dermans are now being crocheted, and as Dermans are becoming more accessible, students can request to keep one on their desks during assessments.

“It’s just some small spark of joy in some way. Whether that’s lowering stress or not, I’m not 100 percent sure, but what I will say is that it’s just a quick reminder that someone believes in you. Derman is representing the fact that we believe in you to be successful,” Tracy said.

Many students believe that using Dermans in the classroom makes math more manageable and enjoyable.

“Especially last year, preparing for finals, we had what was called a daily Derman, which is basically a daily do-now problem, but it was a fun addition—something to look forward to,” Laura Yoo, a senior, said. 

Since last year, the love for Derman has taken off. Derman-themed merchandise created by the LHS robotics teams, including last year’s Derman stickers by The Parity Bits and the ongoing 3D-printed Derman fundraiser by 2 Bits and a Byte, continues to contribute to its rising popularity. 

“We’re hoping to spread the Derman love to more people and have more access to Dermans for a very low price,” Tracy said.

Dermans make students want to thrive and do better, show students that so much is possible, and bring in more positivity.

“I think it just kind of reduces the expectation that math is serious, always hard, there’s no mercy, everything is black and white, but you can still have fun and enjoy your time in math. Dermans are just a way to bring a little more fun into the classrooms,” Yoo said.