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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mad Science & Monster Math Night

We knew this would be a fun event but we had no idea what a big hit it was really going to be.
(Keep in mind that our K-5 school has just over 200 students enrolled right now.)  As we began planning for this math/science night we decided it would be a good idea to have families RSVP so we would know how much food to buy.  It was only refreshments, but we wanted to be sure no one was left out.  The very next day, we had about 40 people who had RSVP'ed.  Before we knew it we were over 100 and when it was all said and done 270 people had RSVP'ed (give or take a few).  Suddenly we weren't only nervous about the refreshments but also about the space we'd chosen to use and how many manipulatives we would need for the math activities.  Plus, this event wasn't required for teachers to attend like most PTA type nights would be.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Marble Towers

I recently challenged my students to consider a probing question based upon a spiral "marble tower".  The probe comes from "Uncovering Student Ideas in Science Volume 3" pg. 71.  Students are asked to evaluate what will happen to the marble as it rolls off the bottom of the tower.  They are given 5 different points of view to consider and must choose 1 to agree with and then defend their reasoning.

The probes are great for determining student understanding and misconceptions.  They are even better when I am able to use them to set the stage for inquiry based learning.  After responding to the probe, I gave students 2 days (40 min/day) to design and build their own marble tower to test their theory.  We used colorful cardstock sentence strips from the dollar tree to form the tower.  Students were given scissors, masking tape, and 5 sentence strips.  Eventually students asked for more sentence strips and they were allowed 2 more per team.  Conversation among "architects" was encouraged.  As students discovered methods for cutting, overlapping, and taping to create the necessary curves for the tower to spiral they shared their ideas with other groups.  The end result is a 3 min. video on schooltube and my 5th grade classes truly understanding the meaning of what can be a difficult topic for this age: inertia.

Check out the video here.