I read a lot of science fiction
I struggle sometimes to come up with good contexts for problems
= Alien Math
My first escapade into alien math was a problem about alien units, the point of which was to understand conversions without getting hung up on feet/meters/etc. I wrote it a few years ago, and it works pretty well. I use it when the opportunity presents itself.
This year, I wanted to do something with my Geometry classes for the final modeling unit after we talk about volume, density, etc. There are lots of problems about surface area and volume and density, making comparisons, maximizing, etc. But I wanted to have a little fun with it, so I came up with
The Flerkus Miners of Gleep!
Introduced it to the ss after our last assessment. There was some satisfying (for me) confusion, then people got to work!
Step 1: Make sense of the problem
Step 2: Plan and calculate
Turned out to take a couple of class periods for most kids to get a handle on this, which was a very interesting process to watch. And I did my best to JUST watch, not giving clues or hints or judgement, just observing their thinking and how they got into it.
Step 3: Build it!
Things were messy and chaotic, but it was pretty fun. Couple of days on this, running out of class time, then we were ready to start
Step 4: Product Testing
A. I made a submission form for students to check off requirements and write down measurements. Mostly, this gave some students a bit of time to frantically add last-minute touches.
B. Blamium distribution ended up taking entirely too much time, and was kind of hard to judge, so I scrapped it after these first few gave it a try.
C. The Flerkus Weigh Station was tons of fun! Rice everywhere, students fighting to be the one who got to pour the flerkus, be the scale expert, make predictions, etc.
Step 5: Awesomeness!
(Yes, I'm focusing on the positive here)
The kids came up with some great stuff for their "Awesomeness" point.
This was fun, and a great way to end the year. The whole points thing needs some work, and the logistics of the testing, too. I think it was worth the time we spent, got more out of the students than anything else would've the last few weeks of school, and left them with a good "taste in their mouth" as they leave my class for the year.
Let's see if I can keep up with a blog!