My students are always asking, “How are we ever going to use this math?” I’m always asking, “Where are contexts that use the math standards they say are suppose to be taught?” We’re all asking, “What are fun, interesting things that involve us and help us learn?”
I just returned from a local math conference where I shared an activity that baffles and intrigues my students. I released two cans of soda in a tub of water. The regular soda sunk and the diet soda floated. Even for the teachers the stage was set. What’s going on? The cans are the same size and have the same amount of soda. Their curiosity drove them to find answers.
The teachers measured the mass of a variety of volumes of soda and water seeking the most precise tools. They graphed and calculated ratios to find patterns in the data. With the graphs and ratios they justified their reasoning in explaining this discrepant event.
Children and adults are intrinsically interested in making sense of the world around them. Topics in science provide a natural environment to use and apply math. Please download the “Float or Sink” activity and use it in your classroom and share how it goes.
AIMS has a resource of activities that takes advantage of engaging science to develop math content and practices. I will start compiling a list of AIMS activities I use to engage students in math by raising science questions. In the mean time how about you? How do your students react to hands-on activities? What activities have you done that have engaged your students?