Elementary Mathematics-Science SMILE Meeting
6 April 1999
Notes Prepared by Earl Zwicker

Section A:

Joyce McCoy (Spencer School)
treated us to a colorful display of insects, both as posters on the board and a large pile of soft- and hard- toy insects and bugs. She asked us the question: Insect or Not? (handout) - and discussed the idea that the term "bugs" includes insects, but not all bugs are insects. Among other things, all insects have 6 legs, which helps to disinguish bugs which are not insects. Interesting!

Yolanda Miro (Morgan Park HS)
showed us an analogy to the ozone layer and how it's possible destruction by chloroluorocarbons can be harmful (eg- skin cancer) to people. She lit an alcohol burner and placed it under a small stand. She then placed an empty paper cup on the stand, and soon removed it as it caught fire. However, when she placed a second paper cup filled with water on the stand, it did not catch fire from the burner, even after many minutes. The cup was analogous to the atmosphere being destroyed by radiation from the sun (burner), and the water in the second cup was analogous to the ozone layer which protects the atmosphere (cup) from being destroyed. Clever analogue and interesting experiment!

RaeLynn Schneider, Erma Lee and Shirley Hatcher, (all at Williams School)
gave us a super-3 sets of ideas, all on color.

From RaeLynn Schneider we each received tiny tops to spin. The top surface of each top was a flat circle on which colorful patterns could be displayed. Following directions, we cut out flat paper disks (handouts) and colored them with markers to make our own patterns. When we placed a disk on the top and gave it a spin, the color pattern would blur and we would see different colors - a consequence of persistence of vision. Blue and yellow at the same radius would appear as green on spinning, for example. Neat! (Much material is available from U.S.Toy, 5314 W Lincoln, Skokie, IL 60007, 847-675-5900) The Mouse Paint Book was filled with color activities, and many of us engaged in them.

Erma Lee and Shirley Hatcher set up a table full of hands-on color stuff, together with a blackboard full of colorful ideas. First grade materials (handouts) helped us learn the names of colors, and then to create color wheels. Many of us worked hands-on with the materials. A grade school visitor produced a dandy finger painting! So many ideas were crammed into such a short time, it was not possible to absorb it all, but we learned enough to make the handouts useful, and we know who to talk to if we have questions! Very nice!

Angela Patrick (Crown School, grade 3)
showed us how she gets her students involved with measurement and learn the difference between inches and centimeters."The Measure of Me" - listed on the board: My head measures _____cm. My neck measures____ cm, etc. for waist, hand. Also, desk and foot in units of paper clips (chained together). Yellow cloth tapes were provided with cm & in on one side. As with her students, Angela pointed out that in order to make a dress or other clothes, a clothes pattern must be made on flat paper, and measurements are needed to make the clothes properly fit a person. Her students can see the sense to that, which helps provide motivation, besides comparing their own measurments. (Some of us were reluctant to measure ourselves, however, so Angela's suggestion to form 6 groups and measure was not taken!) Good ideas!

Cheryl Pitts (Crown School)
had lost her voice, so we all came up and crowded around the table. She showed us some "root gardens" she had made (handout), and we all were soon busy converting empty half-pin milk cartons into root gardens. Each carton came with a "window" already cut from one side. We taped a piece of transparent plastic wrap over the "window" in our carton, then added soil (provided) and seeds (provided). A black paper cover flap was taped over the window, so it would remain dark inside under the soil. Just add water and observe over a period of days and a couple of weeks. When we raised the flaps on those that Cheryl had brought along, we could see the roots of the various plants. Fascinating! And much observe and learn!

Juliette Walker (Crown School)
showed us a Lady Bug Lodge already built of colorful cardboard from a kit. And a book: The Grouchy Ladybug. She expects to receive about 100 ladybugs soon, and will put her students to work Observing Ladybugs (handout). Much to observe and learn, including how to maintain them, the pattern of dots on their adult backs (do you know what it is?), life cycle, usefulness, etc. What an exciting way for her students to learn!

Barbara Baker (Doolittle West School)
used a lighted candle to show us something about space and stars, and to help answer the question: Can you see stars during the day? Why or why not? (handout) With the candle lit in a darkened room it appears fairly bright - the only source of light. But with lights on and sunlight coming in (we couldn't do this - no windows in our room!), the candle appears quite dim and it even may be difficult to see the flame in direct, bright sunlight. During the day, the sky is so much brighter than stars, we can't see the stars. What a source of wonder for her students!

Section B:

Val Williams (Bass School, band/music)
did vocal sound production (do re me fa sol la ti do) - and then raised the question: What is sound? - vibrations of air which we can hear and even feel. The diaphragm in the body causes air to be pushed out or pulled in, and as the air rushes past the vocal chords, the chords vibrate, and so then does the air. The vocal cavity modifies sound which leaves the mouth. Women have shorter vocal chords than men, resulting in higher pitch sound. There are notable exceptions. Flutophones/Recorder were passed out and we made lower pitch (longer wavelength) and shorter pitch (shorter wavelength) sounds. Hearing is believing!

Karen Cronk (St Barbara School)
showed us a model of an Oil Spill Cleanup. How does one do this without getting any of the sand (beach) in with the oil? As a model, using baking soda didn't work, talcum powder -chalk- works well. Detergent breaks up the oil, but doesn't absorb any. A flower will take in colored water by osmosis, resulting in pink bands on its leaves from the food coloring; soak all day.

Earnest Garrison (Chicago Voc.CH)
informed us of a Physical Science Workshop, Grades 6-9, Columbia College, 312-344-7692 for more info. Handout on the Solar System and Astronomy, Adler Planetarium.

Al Tobecksen (Richards Career Acad, MPH visitor)
showed us a rotating wheel that acted as a large gyroscope. As it is spinning, you twist it and "it goes crazy." It seems very heavy, and is especially hard to turn. Placed on a table, it balances like a large top. While holding the spinning wheel and standing on a platform free to rotate about its vertical axis, the platform will rotate in one direction and then reverse, depending on how the wheel is pointed! Amazing!