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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cosmic Voyage (excerpt)

This is part of the video I showed by 7th graders today. I HIGHLY recommend this.

Today was a double period with 7th graders. It was the second time I have met with them in a significant manner since school started. We went over a little about how homework should be completed, how the HW sheets needs to be taped into their math notebooks. I asked them to write down the 2 reasons they could use to explain not doing homework on a given night: 1. I was TOO busy (parent signature require)d and 2. I was TERRIBLY sick (parent signature required). As long as a parent agrees with them, I am not going to be the policeman. Otherwise, I expect them to do the homework when it was assigned, to be randomly checked during the week.

I introduced the topic of exponents and powers of 10. I asked if they had heard about them. Most hands went up. I put a few simple examples on the board and judging a little by the expressions on their faces, they seemed to be understanding a lot. I then introduce the Cosmic Voyage video. I told them that I find it amazing how we can use math to describe HUGE distances as well as extremely tiny ones. We watched the video, which has an excellent description and visual about how circles grow in magnitude from the Piazza San Marco in Venice out to the edges of the known universe. It also takes us down to the level of quarks. The video goes on to explain the Big Bang theory and how the universe is continually expanding. Overall, I feel this video shows and explains the concept of Powers of 10 magnitudes.

I then showed them how to use Google Earth to play around with zooming in and out of our planet. They ended the day by writing down ideas and thoughts that occurred to them as they watched the video.

The class was very attentive, a little formal, but overall happy to be watching a video and thinking about more conceptual math. They did not offer a lot of discussion after the video as I seem to recall from years past, but at the same time, they paid better attention as a group and there were not real behaviorial issues to speak of.

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