Elementary Mathematics-Science SMILE Meeting
21 September 1999
Notes prepared by Earl Zwicker

Section A:

Lyvonia Hearns (Randolph School)
talked about discussing hurricane Floyd with her first grade class. She integrated this current event with social science, physical science and language arts. She explained what a hurricane was, how it progressed from state to state, and the kind of damage that it did. She told us that her class had written a story and did individual illustrations to demonstrate their understanding of a hurricane and its impact. Inspirational!

Zoris Soderberg (Webster school)
wrote down five teaching "keep its:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Keep it graphic.
  3. Keep it safe.
  4. Keep it meaningful.
  5. Keep it fun.
and then she asked: Gravity - what is it? It pulls things down. When she tipped a pop can on its bottom edge, it stayed there at rest. Why didn't it fall? By adding water to the empty can, she had adjusted its center-of-gravity to lie directly above the point of support at its bottom edge, so it wouldn't tip over. Friction was the next topic - she rubbed a styrofoam cup against her arm briskly, several times. Voila! The cup stuck to her arm or hand. It had acquired a static electric charge!

Next, Zoris filled a jar about 2/3 full of water and inverted it while holding an index card over its mouth. When she let go of the card, it remained in place, and the water did not run out! Why? She told us that the air is pushing up against the card, holding it in place. She also showed us a jar of water to which she had added tea sediment, creating layers of differing color intensity. Live science to capture student interest!

Frana Allen (Skinner School)
told us we would create a biom in a box. We formed into 3 cooperative groups, and each received a large box and lots of animals, flowers and other artifacts. Within Frana's specified time, each group had used the materials to decorate their box interiors to represent one of 3 different bioms: desert, tundra or rain forest. It was surprising how beautiful and realistic they looked! Such creativity! And they can be referred to the entire year - connecting with food chains, soil (fertile, frozen, desert) to see which hold water best, etc. Frana told us how bioms could be used to help connect environmental concerns into all the other subjects we teach. Wonderful ideas in action!

...from notes by Camille Gales. (Thanks, Camille)

Section B:

Terry Donatello (St Edwards School) showed us how to make electricity "visible" to students. She connected a tube to a funnel supported in a ringstand, and placed a bucket under the tube. A pinch-clamp held the tube shut, and the funnel was filled with water. When the pinch clamp was opened, the water ran out of the funnel, down through the tube, and into the bucket. We timed how long it took for the funnel to empty, ie, for the water to stop running into the bucket. This was repeated with different diameter tubes, and we could see that a smaller diameter tube resulted in slower flow. This was analogous to the resistance to charge flow (current) in a wire. Terry supplied groups of us each with a battery, bulb, and wire. How to connect them to light the bulb? We learned that more wires (multiple current paths) in the circuit, the brighter the bulb...and the lower the effective resistance to flow. A nicely drawn analogy to help students visualize electrical flow. Thanks, Terry!

John Bozovsky (Bowen HS)
told us about the Principal's Scholars program, and that they need a physics teacher for 6 Saturdays, UIC, Oct 30 - Dec 11, for 7-8 grade students. Contact Fran Adams at (312)-575-7860.

Carl Martikean (Wallace HS, Gary)
showed us liquid boiling below atmospheric pressure. First with the "drinking bird," then a "boiling tube." Methylene chloride, bp 30 deg C, does the trick. As the bird's wet head cools off, pressure decreases and fluid rises up the internal tube from the fluid reservoir which is its tail. Its head becomes heavier than its tail, causing the bird to tip and get its head wet again, but allowing the fluid in its head to now flow down the internal tube back to its tail reservoir, re-initiating the cycle. Next, holding the bulb of the "boiling tube" in one's hand warms the fluid (above 30 deg C), causing it to boil. Carl clarifies for us again!

Al Tobecksen (Richards Voc HS)
passed out an instruction sheet and a envelope to several teams of us. The envelope contains puzzle pieces, and each team is to form 5 squares of equal size. Start on signal, and no speaking or signals for a card, but may give cards to others. Interesting challenge!