Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#CAMT14 Day 2

Today I went to the coolest session at #CAMT14.  In it, we talked about engineering and using engineering problems in the math classroom to engage students.  What was really cool about this session was the engagement.  The presenter had a hard time getting our attention because everyone was so into the activity.

Oh, I'm sorry....you want to know what the activity was?  We were given a baggie with 5 hard mints, 5 drinking straws, 5 popsicle sticks, tape, scissors, and two pieces of paper.  We were tasked with designing a "vehicle" that could travel the farthest with one "puff" of air.  First we had to draw our design.  While we didn't take time in the session to do this, with a class you would want to focus on communication.  The drawing should be detailed enough that someone else could make the "vehicle" from your design.

Then we had to make our vehicle.  Do you know how much cooperation that takes?  We had some serious control issues in my group and as a result we nearly didn't finish.  The presenter showed a picture of a completed "vehicle" from one of the classes she had worked with and I really think that that kind of inhibited some creativity.  Many of the groups more or less copied the design of the one in the picture (we didn't, by the way, thank-you-very-much!).

There were some very heated "races", and you could hear cheers going up around the room from the teams who were successful in creating a "fast car".

What was really cool was the discussion that ensued about the math involved in the design of the vehicles.  Some things we came up with:

  1. How does the shape of the vehicle affect the distance the car will travel with one puff of air?
  2. What volume of air will the vehicle hold?
  3. What measurements were used to build the vehicle?
  4. Does the distance between wheels have any affect on the distance the vehicle will travel?

The possibilities really were endless!

If you're interested in looking at how to incorporate more engineering challenges into your classroom, check out these sites:

If you're looking for engagement, it's worth trying at least once!  You will have fun and so will your students!  Come on....you know you want to.

1 comment:

  1. That would be a great teambuilding activity for the first days of school. Do you have a link to this specific activity or handouts for students? I would love any more info if you do. Thanks Melanie! luvbcd@yahoo.com


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