Elementary Mathematics-Science SMILE Meeting
19 October 1999
Notes Prepared by Earl Zwicker

Section A:

Christine Scott (Beethoven School)
made us think about what is a solid or liquid by showing us how make butter from cream: shake the cream and two marbles in a closed jar - butter! (handout) Also, used a blender (no marbles!) and it seemed to work. Christine also used the blender to puree cored apples, and we tasted samples of this "vita juice" that "will make you 20 years younger." Which of these is a solid or liquid? Ideas?!

Joyce McCoy (Spencer School)
combines reading, math and science (1st grade) by having her students make helicopters from paper following printed directions. (handout) May be decorated (art?) before cutting out. The joys of flying!

used leaves to show properties of matter by observing color, shape, flexibility, etc.

Carolyn McBride (Manierre School)
had us write down a 4 digit number. Then we arrange the digits in order from greatest to least and then least to greatest and subtract. Repeat the process with the resultant number, and continue. Repetition produces 6174. (handout) Next, starting with pages from a calendar, students find common multiples by circling numbers (color markers) which are multiples of 2; enclose in a square multiples of 3; ...a triangle for multiples of 5;...and use an X for multiples of 7. From this, we could deduce the least common multiples of a list of numbers, such as 10, 21, 14, etc. Nice! Carolyn passed out a "Hiking to a Rescue" page, posing a problem to be solved by students in groups of 4. No time left for us to do it. Good ideas!

Beverly Merchant (Soujourne Truth School)
(handout) gave each group of us a small container of water, an eye dropper and pennies. How many water drops will the penney hold before water spills off? Children must guess, and then learn about the "skin" (surface tension) that keeps drops coalesced together until the "skin" can no longer hold. Counting, developing experimental and observational skills, recording data. Explore with nickel? dime? quarter? Guess, then do. Wonderful!

Erma Lee (Williams School)
gave us a paper with (2 inch diameter) circles printed on it; some circles had several segments at different radii. We colored in various segments using 3 primary colors, and then cut out the circles. We then mounted various of the paper circles on tops that we made to spin, seeing color mixing in the process. There were many other activities involving color, drawing, and even Hallowe'en. Pretty!

Shirley Hatcher (Williams School)
(handout) showed us seeds & science. Starting with different kinds of seeds (lima bean, garbanzo bean, corn, sunflower, etc), how many (of each kind) does it take to cover a 5 inch straight line on a piece of paper? How many of each to balance a teddy bear doll? Again - observation, counting, recording data, manipulating. Estimating in advance what the result might be in each case. Great!

Section B:

Stephanie Ruffin (Metcalfe School
had sets of graduated cylinders, stirring rods (straws), stop watches, and various pain reliever pills set out on the front table. Curiosity set in! Teacher had a headache and was cranky, so which pain reliever will act fastest to bring back her good-natured self? Groups of 4 of us experimented to determine which pain reliever dissolved most rapidly: Two brands of enteric coated aspirin, two brands of light coat aspirin, and two non-aspirin brands. A solution of vinegar was heated to near body temperature in order to approximate stomach liquids, and we measured dissolving times in that. Stephanie had us report our results by group after about 15 minutes. We learned that enteric coatings were designed for the medication to pass through the stomach and into the intestines for absorption, while others dissolved in the stomach. Results appeared consistent over the groups. Stephanie explained that this had been a science fair project, and once her students have done a project, they must make it into an experiment for the class to do a later on. Neat ideas!

Denise Murphy & Shirley DeSadier (May school, 5-8) have students do lessons from the internet. (handout) In groups of 4, each group received a plastic tray (about 9x12 sq in, 2+ in deep) which was filled with water. Each person received a piece of aluminum foil. We had to design and construct a boat, and then test to see how many pennies each boat would hold before sinking. A wide variety of shapes and sizes were made and tested. Which worked best? Next time!

Therese Tobecksen (St Anthony School, Calumet City)
showed us orange and black construction paper cutouts, designed to illustrate symmetry. Hallowe'en figures (bat, pumpkin, moon, etc) were a theme. Orange on one side, black on the symmetrically reflected side. We constructed some with scissors and patterns. Quite young minds could grasp the idea of symmetry through this. Very nice!

Carl Martikean (Wallace School, Gary)
told us the tale of the brick layer who was lowering a barrel of bricks from the 6th floor of a building. The barrel was connected to a rope over a pulley and down to the ground where it was securely tied. When he, on the ground, untied the rope, the barrel came down and he went up. At the 3rd floor he met the barrel coming down and broke his arm, etc. This was a form of Atwood's Machine. To simulate this, Carl placed a cord over a smooth, horizontal rod mounted on a ringstand. A bunch of keys was tied to one end and suspended 3 feet above the floor, and Carl attached a book of matches to the other end which he held out horizontally. "What will happen when I let go?" asked Carl. After we made some guesses, Carl released the matches. Much to our surprise, as the keys fell toward the floor, the book of matches was pulled toward the rod, even while falling down (like a pendulum). The book of matches gained angular momentum, which cause the string to wrap several times around the rod, where friction finally held everything at rest, with keys suspended above the floor! Good physics, Carl! For a very sad tale about a bricklayer, see this website http://www.mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=7866

Al Tobecksen (Richards School)
got two volunteers help. He had two pieces of rope, each with a loop at its two ends. He placed the loops over the wrists of the volunteers, and had the ropes linked together. Challenge! Free yourselves from each other without untying or removing the ropes from your wrists. After some tries, we could see this was a tough one. Finally, Roy Coleman and Earl Zwicker (who had done this in the past), showed how. Can you do it now? A topographical puzzle! Thanks, Allen!