Friday, October 19, 2012

The Measurement Group and the Sunflower

"It takes eight paper airplanes to go the length of the sunflower in this picture"
The “measurement group” continued to think about the size of the mammoth sunflower and further investigated ways to use standard and non-standard units of measurement.  One student remarked that they thought each person in the class measured four pencils, and perhaps this could be a starting point for figuring out how to measure the sunflower’s height.  When asked to explain, they began lying on the carpet in the class and trying this theory out.  

I's leg is four pencils long...hmm....
How many pencils tall are we?
Most students discovered that they were about seven to eight pencils tall
It seemed to them that lying stretched out, a first graders’ body would typically measure seven to eight pencils.  The children then lined up all the pencils and
noticed that they were not all the same length. 

In an “aha” moment, they discovered that the Crayola markers were all of standard length,
and so they then laid them out on the stretched out tape measure to give it a go. 

Next they set themselves to work on determining the exact height of the classroom from the floor to the ceiling and noted that it was 8 feet, 4 inches...
far shorter than the height of the mammoth sunflower.

O.  discovers the ceiling in the hallway and they all agreed it looks higher, so they decided to measure the height from the floor to the ceiling outside the classroom.  They got the teacher’s chair and stood on it, and after a number of tries, 
felt satisfied they measured the ceiling correctly at 8 feet 9 inches.  

The measurement group was invited to get clipboards and record their measurements - as this is an important part of what scientists do. They immediately faced the problem of how to record feet and inches. A couple of the children started by sounding out the words.  “Fut” is a common spelling. Others decide to draw the experience and some use a combination of arrows and numbers.  

They discover the F on the measuring tape and use that.  
Discussion moves to how the plant stands up.  Why, when they tried to create a twelve foot length of pop cubes, did it fall over?

D:  Trees are just solid.
The children proposed materials for making something tall. 
T:   Blocks.
O: Get the toys (on the playground) and measure with them.
O:  Pippin’s blocks.  (The wood Pippin has saved from another construction and put o the playground.)
L: We could make it out of clay and put a sunflower head on top. 

The children began to think about not only structure, but if the center of the sunflower is hollow or not and how this could contribute to its stability. 
On another day, the children measured the height of the room, from the floor up to the ceiling.  Using the tape measure, we discovered that the room was exactly 8 feet, 4 inches tall.   

All of the boys in the class and I. worked together to build a stack of books from the floor to the ceiling.  At first, they simply stacked books of all different sizes, but then began to think that perhaps they should rebuild using larger books on the bottom as a base.   
Building the base
We need more books, people!
When it seemed that the tower of books was unstable, the children worked together as a team to see if they could surround the tower with four chairs – one on each of the four sides of the tower.   

The tower grew and grew to the tops of the chairs, but the weight caused the tower to collapse.  The chairs did not provide the support they were hoping for. 

They shared with their classmates their attempt to measure to the ceiling using books.  The attempt is unsuccessful and they deconstruct it for their friends.  
T:  [We were] stacking up books to see how high we could measure
We measured from the floor and it was 8 feet, 4 inches.  We were trying to build the sunflower.
T:   We put the bigger books at the bottom and the smaller at the top.
O: We put chairs around it.
T:   All around the books
When you were stacking the books, why did you decide to use chairs? 
D:  To stable it.  If you weren’t using chairs, it would fall over.  Using chairs a long way up and where it stopped it would fall.
O:  The books fell over because the pop cube bin was bigger than all the other books.  And wider.  (The pop cube bin seems was, at one point, part of the construction.)
D: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Because if you squished the chairs in (indicates with his hands how they pushed the chairs in), then it knocked it over.  The pop cube bin hit the front of the books.
B:  You need to make a winder base to make it stay .  Start with smaller books (indicates in the middle) and then support around it.

N. and L.  relate this building exercise to their clay work in building support for their sunflowers and stems:
N:  We used a pipe cleaner. (There is talk about how the pipe cleaners bent and didn’t hold up the head of the sunflower).
L:  I said we should use clay.  (There is talk about how the clay worked)
K. explains how she did something similar using a supporting  base.

1 comment:

  1. It is wonderful to see the kids testing their hypotheses!