Posted by: jwhiff | November 5, 2013

Object Study as Math Enrichment

A great math centre is something I call “Object Study”.

Basically, interested students explore a range of collected items (shells, fossils, bones, rocks and minerals) through measurement and observation.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a balance scale with various gram weights
  • a large beaker marked with millilitre increments
  • rulers and callipers (cheap at Lee Valley Tools)
  • paper, pencils, erasers
  • a selection of interesting collected items
  • field guides and information books on your items (if possible)

What the students do:

  1. select an object to study
  2. weigh it using balance scale and record weights and total mass on their paper.
  3. measure maximum length and width in cm/mm.  Record these by drawing a horizontal and vertical axis matching the measurements and writing the number and unit beside them.
  4. Complete a detailed sketch of the item inside the axis lines.
  5. Figuring out the volume of the item through displacement (filling beaker with water up to a certain point, submerging the object, recording new water mark, and taking the difference between the new and original water mark).

I find that certain students love this station and visit it all of the time.  Some really slow down and study their object, locating it in the field guides, and even recording extra information about it.

I am still looking for a big enough beaker, by the way.  I have a couple of smaller measuring containers, but some of my rocks and shells simply do not fit inside!  I’ll take a picture and post it as soon as I have one.


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