Trying to find math inside everything else

Scaling

Today’s Unshelved gave me an idea for a possible Living Environment-connected lesson I can do in the new year. Surprisingly, though most people think Math and Science go hand in hand, I have a much harder time connecting Living Environment to math than with ELA or History. (Maybe this XKCD comic explains why I have an easier time with Physics and Chemistry.)

During my statistics unit this past year I did a lesson on scaling and how area and volume scale proportionally to the square and cube of the length. I did it during the statistics unit because it was based on how improper scaling is used to mislead people. (My unit was based on the book “How to Lie with Statistics.”) Of course, where the lesson lies may change based on the curriculum overhaul I do this summer, but I imagine the basics will be the same.

I ran the lesson as a lab, with students building letters out of blocks and then scaling them upwards by factors of 2, 3, 4, and seeing what happens to the area of a trace and the volume (number of 1 cm^3 blocks needed). It was a fine lesson, but I wonder if I can’t improve it with a little more…wonder.

I want to see if I can find a good picture or video of a giant creature like mentioned in the Unshelved post and see if I can get students to wonder if it can exist. That sort of question can give purpose to the scaling exploration in the lab. If you read this and can offer assistance, great. Expect a post in the future based on what I find.

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