Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Math, Photo Booths, Water Chemistry, and Toob-Inspired Learning

Good evening-- this week is finally Thanksgiving! I am also coming back from a pretty extensive hiatus.

If you have the week off, you're amazingly fortunate! However, there is this other part of me that feels quite fortunate to have my students for two days this week. I get to hold one Technology Club meeting (canceled last week due to weather), host a Thanksgiving feast with a photo booth, and talk about hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules. I am also thinking about Toob-inspired learning because I found a wonderful deal at Michaels today that I could NOT resist!

Thanksgiving Math and Feast--

I have used some wonderful lesson plans from Teachers Pay Teachers this year as well as some of my original, creative ideas to intertwine math and Thanksgiving. Around every holiday, I try my best to make learning fun while reviewing a grand plethora of skills.

This year, my students were able to "plan" a Thanksgiving dinner for their families and friends using a wonderful packet from Teaching with a Mountain View. Intended for 4th-7th grade students, this mini-project includes tons of multi-step questions that mirror higher-order Common Core Standards. Students do more than just planning a dinner. I love how she focused on time it takes for people to prepare and cook various delectable goodies. Mary also included differentiation options for the most advanced learners, which is impressive and amazing since she teaches fifth grade gifted students as well!

I also used Thanksgiving Trivia Math and Thanksgiving Fractions from this packet, which includes quality word problems as well as tons of other kinds of questions. Math Mojo, the creator, also differentiated this packet for third- and fourth-grade students.

I am continuing the focus on Thanksgiving this week by incorporating these two free resources-- the math of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Mayflower Math.

In light of this, we are having a feast tomorrow afternoon. My math-minded self will be asking my students some questions, of course. Seeing the general rule of thumb is about a pound and a half per person, how many people can generally be served by our class' 22-pound turkey? We also have some turkey on the side from smaller packages, so students will estimate how many can be served from those containers as well. We will talk about how long it took to prepare the turkey, also, and estimate how many minutes it took per pound.

I also went to a wedding this weekend, so I am excited to have my very first photo booth for families and friends to enjoy tomorrow. There will be all kinds of crazy props, which will hopefully get everyone laughing and having a wonderful time.

Water Chemistry--

I am quite excited to talk about hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules this week using growing cubes from Educational Innovations and five kinds of growing figures from Michael's (which were $1.00 each).

The essential questions will be-- What is a polymer? How are the figures you are seeing polymers? Why do you think the figures are "behaving" the way they are? 

First, I will show students this video from TED-ED and explain that many, many, many things in our world consist of polymers. Polymers are comprised by strings of tiny molecules and "behave" in different ways based on how their atoms and molecules join together. Most polymers are linear, though some also tend to branch. They repeat in specific patterns.

I am going to engage my classes by showing them a glass of water that appears to not have anything inside, though one of the cubes (expanded to full size and transparent) will be immersed. I am going to pull out the cube and ask students why it appears invisible when immersed. In the midst of that, I will show what the cubes look like before being immersed, which have a yellow hue and are quite a bit smaller. Of course, I will ask students what they believe is occurring as the cube expands in volume and "loses" its yellow hue.

I am also going to display the five winter-inspired figures and ask students what the science is behind their "expansion capabilities". Overnight, they will be immersed in containers filled with water so the conversation can continue the following day. We are going to compare the mass and area (in square centimeters) of the figures.

After discussing and exploring a bit, I will explain to them what is happening scientifically.

The growing cubes are like the "ghost crystals" that are referenced in this document from the Polymer Ambassadors.

Essentially, hydrophilic water gel "spheres" consist of a polyacrylamide polymer that water "clings" to. The cubes absorb water and expand until they are quite a bit larger (which is approximately 300%). The absorption is dependent on how much salt is in the water, so it is recommended tap water is used rather than purified or bottled water.

Changes in appearance happen almost automatically. Within ten minutes or so, it is intriguing seeing how water molecules are "clinging" onto the cube, which begins taking on the shape of a several-sided prism. When the cubes are fully grown, their refraction index is almost like that of water, so that is why they appear invisible. Light rays are not bent when they travel between two substances with the same refraction index.

With the "expanding figures", they consist of both hydrophilic and hydrophobic polymers. The figure absorbs water because of the hydrophilic polymers, and then it maintains its shape because of the hydrophobic polymers, which are known as "framework polymers". (See a really neat lesson here and the explanation I read before writing this, if you desire.)

Toob-Inspired Learning--

Now onto something I am going to explore later in the week when I have a few days off-- my two new Toob purchases from Michaels. They are two different sets of World Landmarks. Here is one of the Toobs on, if you are curious about what is inside... or if you don't know what I am talking about. There was a buy one, get one 50% sale, though the second Toob I purchased was already discounted.

I am thinking of designing a math game on poster board where I sketch out the world and lay out the landmarks (perhaps carving a groove into foam). The questions will then be about the actual dimensions of the landmarks (not the Toob figures), how far away the students are from home when visiting these particular destinations, and more.

I am also thinking about asking students which three Toob figures have the greatest volume-- and why. I am interested in seeing what their thought processes will be when determining which three are the greatest.

Do you have any other ideas? Have you used figures from Toobs in the classroom before? The only thing I have used them for is game pieces, so I am pretty excited.

I hope you have a wonderful week! It's nice to be blogging again! Thanks for reading.