Gently mix a group of curious 4th graders with several excellent and creative teachers, add in a dash of math and measurement, and blend in a generous amount of hands-on exploration and fun and what do you get? The perfect recipe for student engagement, career preparation and a bunch of kids who think math is fun!
At Randolph Elementary School in Goochland County, Virginia a group of creative teachers and enterprising young 4th graders decided to take their “math mania” to the limit this year by staging a Measurement Fair. In Virginia, 4th graders study math and measurement as part of Virginia’s Standards of Learning Objectives. They learn about customary and metric units of measurement, conversions between units like “how many inches are in 4 feet?” and all about weight, length, volume and how to estimate and predict outcomes.
So how do you get kids to apply what they have learned and love it?
You challenge them to create a fun learning environment like a Measurement Fair. Teams of 4th graders at Randolph Elementary were given the challenge to design a “measurement station” that their friends and younger students would enjoy exploring. They had to work collaboratively to choose their measurement concept, brainstorm a station title, and outline a set of directions to help others learn.
At the Fair every Measurement station had to:
- Be interactive (that means fun!)
- Include estimation and actual measurement activities (kids had to make predictions)
- Have a clear set of directions
- Have a catchy, colorful title
And boy did these kids rise to the challenge!
They designed fourteen different measurement stations where students measured everything from distance at “The Magic Marble” to estimating and measuring mass in “Dice, Beans, and Men!”
Some highlights of the activities included:
- A fishing activity where students “cast” a magnet hook to catch a fish and measure how far their “cast” went.
- Exploring capacity by predicting how much liquid an egg would displace and then using measurement tools to see if their predictions were correct.
- Estimating and measuring the distance of a marble's bounce after it rolled down a ramp and hit a piece of rubber.
Click here for a PDF of the Measurement Fair Recording Worksheet the lists all of the activities and was used by all of the students.
Teams used recycled items including paper towel rolls, plastic containers and lids, cardboard, magazines, lots of masking tape and glue, crayons, markers and of course rulers, measuring cups, and a scale. They even had to learn to “measure” and use their time wisely! One of the best ways to learn something is to try teaching it to someone else. And these students excelled in their role as math teachers, working hard to help all of their younger students learn.
I've never seen ALL of the children - of every age and development- so engaged!" shares Mrs. Russell, Secretary of Randolph Elementary. "It was a delight to see the usually reticent students just 'blooming' as they helped the younger ones - and the younger ones were so absorbed in the activities! The students were so proud of what they accomplished."
“Implementing a measurement fair allows teachers to step back and students to step forward and show their creativity and math knowledge. Our students truly demonstrated a deeper understanding of measurement concepts as well as 21st century skills,” explained Sara Rowan, 4th grade teacher at Randolph Elementary School. Using an engineering design brief (Click here for a PDF) and guided portfolio (Click here for a PDF) students applied strategies being used in many companies and offices today. They brainstormed ideas, worked collaboratively to solve a problem, presented their solutions and afterwards- reflected on and evaluated their success.
Sounds like these kids are having fun understanding math and are well on their way to success in the 21st century workplace to me!
For more on the Measurement Fair contact Sara Rowan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager