31 January, 2006

Math Rally

I spent the morning working with my colleague on a concept for a math rally. The idea for a math rally originated from a math teacher’s comment about how children now-a-days are not consciously aware of their surroundings as numbers, geometrical forms, or mathematical formulas.
This comment supports my experience last year in a 3-D project, where 13th graders were supposed to create a 3-D representation of their school. At the beginning of the project the students didn't know how big one room was in comparison to another, how to approximate the size of a room (e.g. measure how big your step is and then "walk" the room), nor proportions, let alone architectural characteristics.

In this present project, math rally, the 5th and 6th grade students will have to discover their school as a collection of mathematical paradoxes, parameters and challenges. Example 1, the school auditorium is going to be changed into a swimming pool. How many cubic meters of water would fit in it and how much will it weigh? Example 2, the windows on the west side of the school have to be replaced. How many sheets of glass, each 2 square meters, must the contractor order?

The questionnaire is created on PCs and then transferred later for the rally on PDAs. The questionnaire will, hopefully, be produced by a grade 10 or 11 math class. What we need is a math teacher willing to take the lead of the project. My students and I usually end up doing too much work on these projects. Ideally, it is the students and teachers who are suppose to surge ahead.