Elementary Mathematics-Science SMILE Meeting
17 October 2000
Notes Prepared by Earl Zwicker


Edgar Boyd, Senior [Frank L Gillespie School]
passed away on September 1, 2000, after several months of illness. We just learned this on October 17. Edgar was a long-term SMILE participant and a mentor to many people. He shared his enthusiasm and love for science with his 4th - 8th grade students and his fellow teachers. Many of us will remember last seeing him in SMILE during the spring 1999 semester, when he phenomenologically shared science ideas with us. His wife Carolyne Boyd [Bennett School] also participated in the SMILE program for a number of years.

 We miss you, Edgar.

Claudette Rogers, Carolyn McGee, Laurie Brandon-Burke, and Carolyn McBride
[the Manierre School quartet!]

showed us activities they have used to motivate the interest of their students in math and language arts - and it all involves money! Two colorful displays were set out with photos showing students in the various activities. A book,
Why Was Money Invented? (The One and Only Common Cents Series, Vol I)
Neale S. Godfrey
[Silver Burdett 1995]
ISBN 03 - 8224 - 9135 

was on display, and in response to the question, Does anyone know? --- came the reply - So I can spend it! This brought a laugh, but we were told that was correct. We each received a black folder and a green one, each containing lessons and related activities with money. For example, US Money - where and how coins are made; the words and symbols to be found on coins. There were materials appropriate to various grade levels: K-2, 3-5, with teachers' pages such as these:

 These lessons available from the US Mint websites:

Included was an order form for the 2001 50 State Quarters Program Lesson Plans from the US Mntt. We even got involved in a chemistry lesson from the book

Cool Chemistry: Great Experiments with Simple Stuff
Steven W Moje
[Sterling 1999]
ISBN 08 - 069603492

 when we were provided with a small cup of vinegar, some table salt, and paper towel. We put a drop of vinegar on a dull penny, added a little salt and rubbed and lo! - the penny turned shiny bright! What a wonderful set of learning ideas!

Winifred Malvin (Carver Primary School)
printed on the board: 

Energy Transfer
What a Machine Does
Hooey Machine

She gave us a handout, and passed out these items to each of us:

two pencils
about 5  thumb tacks
a length of masking tape
a pushpin
a strip of stiff paper [about 2 cm x 10 cm] with a hole punched in the center to be a propellor.
 Following instructions, we stuck the thumbtacks into the pencil in a row, several mm apart, and then we wrapped the tape around the tacks and pencil to make a bumpy side. We attached the propeller to the front of the pencil by forcing the pushpin into the eraser through the hole in the propeller's center. With the bumpy side up, we stroked it vigorously back and forth with the second pencil, and with some trial and error, we were able to make the propeller spin! Some of us could even reverse its direction at will. On the board Winifred wrote these two questions:

The handout provided other questions for discussion, and references. You certainly have given us something to figure out! - and a useful learning tool. Thanks, Winifred!

Jean Essig (Woods School)
gave us a page titled Flying Bat, complete with instructions, which we followed. No cutting was involved. After making all the folds, the "bat" could be made to fly like a paper airplane of unusual shape. A good exercise for our students, and just in time for Halloween. Jean drove us batty with this one! Thanks!

Mamie Hill (Woods School)
gave us two handouts. In studying the body, she wanted her students to learn how unique each person is, and one of the handouts was titled Y is for You! --- which, with rhymes and funny drawings, made the point. And the second page, titled Yabba-Dabba You! showed us something of our individuality. We traced the outline of our left hand on a paper, and ended up transferring our fingerprints to each of the fingers on the outline! Prints could be compared and different characteristics observed. Very nice, Mamie!

Rae Schneider (Williams School)
gave us instructions for making a cut-out bat from black construction paper. We could draw a bat face with chalk, and lines for fingers. It was noted that the bat's wings are its fingers, with skin webbing stretched between, and they can fold up, umbrella-like. They can be suspended around the room with thread. Thanks to Rae, another Halloween idea!

Notes taken by Earl Zwicker

SECTION B [4-8]:

Earnest Garrison (Jones Academic Magnet HS)
asked, How hot are your hot wheels? He passed out hot wheels miniature cars (about 1" x 2.5") and set up a track with two ring stands, so the track formed a U shape or valley. Cars were measured (in cm) for width, etc. and a table of data formed:


2.5 cm


1.7 cm


6.4 cm

wheel base

3.8 cm

Then we took turns, releasing our cars from rest on the track at a fixed height of 49 cm above the lowest (bottom) point of the track (0 cm or table height), and measuring how high each traveled up the other side of the track. We observed these heights:

27 cm   ...   36 cm  ...   28 cm    ...    31 cm.

Of course, we wondered why there was so much variation in the result. Discussion followed. And then, using a track formed into a loop, what height is needed so a car will make it all around the loop without losing contact? Lots of good science involved here! The same kind of physics and analysis is used in the design of roller coasters. Thanks, Earnie!

Zoris Soderberg (Webster School)
repeated  the Five Ks of Science mantra:

And then she got us into the skeleton - and the functions it serves: support, body shape, protection.

Question: How can a piece of paper hold up two 3 pound books?

Zoris showed us how. Roll up the paper into a cylinder and tape it. Place it on end and carefully put the books on the top end! Does this have any connection with bone structure? She also gave us a page showing The Human Skeleton, identifying the various bones by name. A skeleton she showed had flashing eyes! Not all bones were named, but we had a good idea of the many bones in the body. Dr Soderberg, wearing her stethoscope, quizzed us on the bones.

And then she closed with, "It is after 5:00 p.m., the doctor's office is closed." Neat!

Roy Coleman (Morgan Park HS)
showed us the physics of a toboggan slide, similar to Earnie's experiment with the hot wheels cars. He used conservation of energy as a toboggan is assumed to slide without friction down an incline through a vertical height h, but then encounters friction while traveling a horizontal distance, D, in coming to rest. The loss in gravitational potential energy, m g h, is used to do work against friction, while being brought to rest:

m g h    =   F D   =  m g  D.
Thus,   .... D  = h /

(Note that is the coefficient of kinetic friction.) Good physics, Roy! Thanks!

Therese Donatello (St. Edwards School)
gave us side panels from cereal boxes which list ingredients and nutritional info. She gave us a list of questions that should be asked in order to determine the cereal that has the greatest benefits for you. She asked some questions:

We got into some discussion. Porter Johnson remarked that according to some, high fiber is good since it promotes faster digestion:
faster digestion is good; a longer time for digestion is bad.
Slow digestion might permit the buildup of certain toxins in the colon that ultimately lead to cancer, although the scientific jury is still "out' on this issue.  For a  discussion, see p 25 of the book
Merde: Excursions in Scientific, Cultural, and Socio-Historical Coprology
Ralph A Lewin
[Random House 1999]
ISBN 0 - 375 - 50198 - 3
Thanks, Therese! And with this food for thought, we ended our active and idea-packed meeting!

Notes by Porter Johnson & John Scavo.