Build Realistic Math Modeling
Education separates experience from the learning process. We could learn a few things from our own history. Math development progressed along its slow, continuous track: caveman to calculus. Here, in the early 21st century, we expect second graders to operate at abstract levels using a symbolic language that took mathematicians thousands of years to develop. Educators are asked to start with the algorithm –the abstraction- and work backwards to the concrete. We wonder why math is such a dreaded subject. Neither the teacher nor the student knows where the symbols are supposed to take them.
Math Modeling uses data collected to extrapolate new knowledge. A STEM classroom (or STEAM) makes the esoteric hands-off subject focused learning an interactive experience. You are building synapses and connections to give rote learning longevity in context.
Example: Measure the height of chairs in the room. Match height to chair color. Create a math model to decide the height of untested green chairs. You can predict, with some accuracy, that the untested green chairs will measure 3ft in height. The math model for young students works well if chairs are measured in person. Remember, move from concrete to symbolic with few exceptions. Kids have just connected the Common Core measurement to objects in real life. Simple.
Take it another step and have kids design a scale model of a real seating option using the measurements they've collected. The seat must not cost more than $20. Assign all materials a cost, say a dollar per inch of cardboard. Students re-engineer the concept of seating to match their own requirements. and test the object's ability to hold weight. Using cost of materials as your graph's X coordinate and weight held as the Y coordinate, you give them a math model (coordinate graph) to determine the best design. The "best fit" or optimal design is the one that holds some amount of weight without going over budget.
Math Model for a Seating Challenge
I am a partner in Art of STEM and co-developer of many K-12 STEM pipeline programs. I love teaching teachers, and I am really patient with kids (sometimes not so patient with adults). More importantly, I am mom to an 8-yr-old and owned by 2 cats. Here is my little family and my awesome Art of STEM partners.
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