With a little innovation and “outside the text thinking” opportunities for math inquiry can be found everywhere. This math resulted from what started out to be a pretty crumby outdoor recess and an age old snow hill problem. Read about it in “STAY OFF THE HILLS!” An Innovative Solution to an Age Old Problem. This math resulted from that experience.
Upon, returning to the classroom after another 30 full minutes of constructive, creative and cooperative play, I had a math problem for them. Could they figure out the volume of the snow cube I had constructed? Although my students had explored area and perimeter I hadn’t yet exposed them to volume, and so our math inquiry for the day began.
I told them that I would not be giving the formula, but they need to ask questions to help them find a reasonable solution. To add to the fun, I tweeted out my challenge and tagged a few other grade 6 classes. Mr.So’s class responded almost immediately! After many great questions, my students believed they were ready to solve the problem with their own formulas. I observed and heard discussions about “stacked area”, what “3dimensional” means, “2D versus 3D” and what “cubed” means and why. Some students began to talk about the “base area” while others wanted to trace, cut out and use the “footprint of the cube”. After successfully figuring out the volume many of my students began to determine the perimeter of the base and sides, some figured out the base area and even a few began to figure out the area of all the sides!
As my math block had been reduced to 30 minutes (due to the outdoor “play”), the end of the block came quickly. As I was about to put our math manip into the sink to melt someone suggested putting it in a container so we could preserve the water and measure that. And so the inquiry will continue…