Elementary Mathematics-Science SMILE Meeting
08 February 2000
Notes Prepared by Earl Zwicker

Section A [K-5]

Frana Allen (Skinner School) passed out some blue bags, white bags, purple bags, and yellow bags. Biomes Rule the World was the title of the handout she gave us. "Open your blue bags" Frana said. "What do you find?" And blue baggers found sea coral, sand, salt, colored rock, sponges, shells - which were identified with the Oceans biome. And so it went. The materials in white bags typified Wetlands; purple bags the Desert; yellow bags the Rainforest. The handouts were rich with ideas to bring the subjects alive in the classroom.

Lastly, Frana crumpled up and then roughly straightened a large piece of glossy white paper (about 12 in x 17 in). She placed it in a large inexpensive (groc.store) aluminum tray (like for cooking a turkey?), after making random marks on the paper with colored marker. When she sprayed the paper with water from a spray jar, we could see how the water ran from higher to lower parts of the paper, streaking the color from the marker as it did so, and showing the path taken by water (rain?). A vivid model of how water flows to form wetlands, rivers, lakes, etc. Beautiful!

Jean Essig (Woods School) (handout) showed us how to make a butterfly, and we went up to the table which she had stocked with materials (crepe paper in various colors, pipe cleaners, markers, clamp-type clothes pins.) Soon we made fan-shaped wings from the colorful crepe paper, clamped them into the clothespin, and mounted pipe cleaner antennae colored with markers. Very nice! There were also butterfly shapes cut out for coloring. A handout with cut-and-paste drawings showing the 6 stages of butterfly growth (beginning with eggs) challenged us to put the drawings in correct order and color them. While developing hand and art skills, students would learn about insect growth. Delightful!

Barbara Lorde (Attucks School, K-3) (handout) explained how her students would, over time, first learn the symbols for the numbers and name them. They would learn to count forward, and backward. Then she showed us Math with Bigfoot. Flat on the floor in front of us she taped a colorful plastic sign reading Welcome as a starting point. And then she taped different colored plastic "footprints" to the floor in a kind of "hopscotch" pattern. The footprints bore consecutive numbers 1, 2, etc. Students would then be asked to "hopscotch" the foot pattern (developing motor skills), naming the numbers while doing so. After a while a paper square could be used to cover a number - so the student would learn to recall what "belonged" at that point in counting. Or use plastic cards of different geometrical shapes and colors to cover numbers - learning names for shapes and colors as well! Older kids expand to multiplication & division - they still enjoy the game! Barbara had a beautiful display of books and other resources, and she showed us some "popup" books which she uses interactively. Much can be found at the Dollar Store at the shopping center, 31st & Ashland. What a wealth of useful ideas!

Earnest Garrison (Jones Commercial HS) (handout) had one of us come up and by mixing guar gum solution and a borax solution in a beaker, with dye coloring, we made some "slime," stuff that kids delight in cause it looks and feels "icky." The slime was passed around, though some of us didn't want to pass it! The handouts detailed various polymer making formulas, which could be investigated by students. (Earnie did this in Section B also.) Thanks, Earnie!

Section B [4-8]

John Scavo (Richards Career Academy) showed us how to make a thermometer! For reference see the website http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/projects/thermometer.html (handout) Pour equal parts of tap water and rubbing alchohol into a clear, narrow-necked plastic bottle (11 oz water bottle) to about 1/8 - 1/4 full. Add a few drops of food coloring; mix. Drill a small hole in the top and put a soda straw into the bottle with its end just above bottom, and seal into place with clay. Hold bottle in hands or place in hot water bath. What happens?! Get involved in dialogue on the science. Neat!

Zoris Soderberg (Webster School) lit a candle, dripped a drop of wax onto a platform, and placed the burning candle on it for support. We discussed that flame is rapid oxidation releasing heat which continues the process. One needs three things for fire: fuel, oxygen, heat (raise temperature). Zoris showed us how a paper cup simply would burn when placed in the candle flame, but the same sort of cup containing water would not burn. Incomplete combustion results in carbon monoxide (CO), a health hazard. Good ideas from simple things!

Earnest Garrison (Jone Commercial HS) showed how to make slime. See Section A write-up. Thanks, Earnie!

Barbara Pawela (May School, ret) burned some paper in a small jar, then placed her hand over it. The flame went out (no oxygen), and the jar stuck to her hand! Why? The combusted gases in the jar resulted in a lower pressure within, so the higher air pressure outside the jar forced it to stay on her hand. Then Barbara passed out straws and ginger ale, and challenged us to see who could sip up their drink first. It turns out the "losers" found that their straws had holes in their sides. Why did it work this way? She then boiled water in an Erlenmeyer flask [straight sides] and placed a balloon over its open top end. The balloon inflated (pressure of water vapor). But with the heat source turned off, the flask cooled, and the balloon shriveled up; it even would get pushed into the flask by the higher pressure of the air outside.

Another challenge was to transfer water from one container to another using straws (no pouring allowed!). One way is to fill a straw and then dump it a la pipette style. Another way is to immerse the bottom end of a vertical short straw into the water, and then blow through another straw held horizontally with its end positioned at the top of the short straw. Water is drawn up the short straw (Bernoulli effect) and then blasted into droplets by the air stream: an atomizer!Question: How does a siphon work?

And last, Barbara had us fold the ends of an index card down at right angles to form a short U shape and invert it onto table top. Fold a second card midway along its long dimension to form a V, and place it inverted on the table. Now blow through the opening between card the table. What happens? The inverted V shape could be launched, but not the inverted U! Why? Try it! Thanks, Barbara!