Sunday, February 13, 2011

Catapulting in the classroom!

Math isn’t always the most fun for students, partly because it is often taught through lectures that sound a bit like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  I know I have felt that way while teaching math lessons only because I have had to stick with the book.  There is no reason for young kids to hate math before they get to high school and college.  Sometimes they will have to go through the boring math lessons but creating extensions and even doing a little bit of editing to an already made math lesson can make it a lot of fun for them to learn. 
In class this week we learned out to use little objects like cotton balls and paper clips to find data on how far you can shoot a cotton ball using the paperclip.  The students would then use their data that they found to found an average of how far they shot their cotton ball as well as possibly find the median, min, max, and mode.  This seemed to be a great way for students to be involved in their own learning instead of just working through data given to them on a sheet of paper.  This will help them see where the data is coming from and what their answers are telling them. 
I was thinking more about this assignment and about my physics class I took many years ago.  I could imagine using what they students have learned from this lesson and creating another lesson using cat-a-puts.  In this lesson the students will be able to learn about force and how much force something has can make a difference on how far it will go.  They would have the opportunity to learn about how much pull gravity has the object and will be able to use this information to figure out how to shoot a plastic cat into a small cup.  The catapult launcher was about to show how much force was being put on the cat as well as the angle it is shooting from.  This can help the kids learn about how to hit a target using math and physic skills.
One thing I wonder about is how can I create lessons using the book that many public school teachers are required to teach from to make the lessons fun and interactive?

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