# Early Measurements are Awful (and awfully fun!)

How many palms long is my classroom? How many fathoms wide is the garage door? How many cubits high is my closet? My GTT students set out to answer these and other ridiculously silly questions today on our quest to prove that early, non-standardized measurements don’t cut it!

Below: Using palms and girth to measure tables and walls in the classroom.

These girls used string to keep track of the width of their hand (the way they used to measure horses, from tip of outstretched pinky to thumb) and then measure the width the classroom’s garage door.

# Clap! Go! Clap! Go!

This is some of the cool stuff that students do when left to their own devices. I showed them the directions for Damien Kee’s Domabot. Next I told them to go play. These groups of students decided to have a race using clapping and the sound sensor. There was no direction or instruction, no computers either; the students just figured it out themselves with the on-board programming. This really shows how important the concept of play is in learning and also how important it is to allow people to create their own learning- the whiteboard tables really help support the students in creating their learning conditions.

# LEGO Measurements

The comparison between the black and grey pins usually doesn’t take a full class period, so I taught the students about measurement and had them measure 3 different axles and write down their measurements on the table.  Again I didn’t tell them how to do it and as you can see different groups wrote down in different ways but they all got it.

# Observation and Manipulation of LEGOs

Today in Robotics we worked on the learning target “I can use observation and manipulation to determine various properties of LEGO pieces.”

I had the students look at and play with the black and grey pins, and also gave them two beams.  I did not give them any other directions other than they had 5 minutes to observe and manipulate, then 3 minutes to write down their observations.  Here’s a sample of their observations, I’ll make comments at the bottom:

After the students generated ideas like: loose, tight, smooth, stuck, harder to turn, swing freely, etc I told them to write the word friction down.  Then they were told to circle the word and draw a line from friction to the color pin they thought had more friction.  Most got it correct first time but for those who didn’t I added a definition of friction and once they tied that definition to their play with the pins they were all able to get it.

It was really interesting to me during this lesson and the next one (see LEGO Measurement) to see how differently the kids organized their thinking.  Some wrote long hand notes, some drew T charts, some Venn Diagrams.  I’m not sure if there was a best type to use, but I think it’s great that they had all these methods at their disposal (credit and props to Bethel elementary schools).  What I think was important is that they were able to organize their own though process by having the LEGOs right there and then being able to write about them in front of them.

Ideally I would love every kid to have a Smart Phone with an app like Evernote so they could take a picture like I did and be done with it.  Until that happens, I had them go back to their computers and finish the following statement:

After observing and manipulating the two different pins, we noticed the black one had more friction, this means…

They had to finish this statement as part of their exit ticket.  This allowed them to use the new word friction, but still write about it in a way they understood.

# Brainstorming on the Table

As an opening day activity groups were challenged to build the tallest free standing towers out of the following parts: 2 plastic spoons, 5 craft sticks, three pencils, two cups, three
mailing labels, and two plastic golf tees. They had to brainstorm their ideas first by drawing on the whiteboard tables for two minutes before they were allowed to build. The tallest tower was 38 13/16 inches tall.

The one below on the right was a very close 38 inches, but the one below that…

was 39 13/16 inches tall.  Congratulations girls!