Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How Big is Your Classroom?

This week's inquiry was taking us into the realm of space - we were going to look at how big a classroom is.

The Provocation

I was going to make an i-Movie as a provocation. It was going to be news report featuring my good friend Mr Black (@CpaitanoAmazing). Apparently, Mr Black had decided that he deserved the biggest classroom in the school.

Our challenge was to find the biggest classroom for him.

(Sadly, time ran out and I didn't get the movie made in time.)

So we speculated, which classroom is the biggest?

What do you mean by "biggest"?

There was some discussion about this.

Did we mean greatest volume, largest area, longest perimeter? Did we mean the one with the most desks? The one with the most useable space? Is the art room a classroom? Is the music room?

We decided, by consensus, that we were going to look at the area of all rooms that have a class allocated to it permanently, so not the art or music rooms. And we would measure the area because I didn't want kids to be climbing up on desks with tape measures to measure the height of the walls (yes - I know there are other ways but try to convince a 12 year old boy that he doesn't need to climb on top of furniture.)

Here is a summary of our discussion.

A few interesting ideas:

  • Do we need to measure every room or can we assume that some rooms will be the same size as each other since they are built on top of each other and use the same external walls?
  • Could be seal the room with silicone and then fill it with water??!! What a great idea...
  • Can we get hold of the blueprints for the building and look at them? They probably already have measurements on them.
  • And what about the furniture? Does that need to be subtracted from the room space?

Revision of what we know

Previously we had found that if you multiply the two sides of a rectangle together, you get the area.

Excellent news...but what if the room isn't a perfect rectangle? What if it looks like this....

"Then it's impossible to find the area!" said one student.

Really? That idea needs some more thinking.

Anyway, we started small and broke into groups to measure just the Year 5 and 6 rooms. Each group did one room. There are 8 rooms, each room is the mirror image of the one next to it and the same as the one above (or below) it. Here's a picture:

And when they came back we wrote up the results for the different rooms so that we could talk about our data.

Here are the sizes of each room as measured by each group:

Hmm....there's a bit of a difference between the results. I was expecting some variation but this is a good indicator to me that some groups are not using the same methodology as the rest of us.

A great activity - easy for me to see who understands the concept and who doesn't, gets the kids outside doing some maths and also a productive application of multiplication skills.

Tomorrow we will venture further afield and visit the P-4 rooms.

I wonder where Mr Black will end up?

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