Elementary Mathematics-Science SMILE Meeting
12 December 2000
Notes prepared by Porter Johnson

Because of a visit by Frosty the Snowman (blizzard) followed by Mr Jack Frost (deep-freeze) a number of participants were unable to attend the meeting.  Section A (K-5) and Section B (4-8) met together for this last session of the semester:  See you next year! [23 January is the first SMILE class].
Sophia Watson (Manley HS)
did a lesson Air Pressure as a force.  She began by blowing up a balloon to illustrate the effects of air pressure.  She then filled a small jar [250 cc or so] about half full with water, and placed a stiff card to cover the open top.  Then she held the paper in place, turned the jar upside down, and removed her hand.  We noted that the paper stayed in place, and the water did not spill out of the jar.  She did this several times, and sometimes a little leaked out initially, but the experiment was largely reproducible.  We generated the following list of questions:. The last question was discussed at some length, and three reasons were proposed for the failure of the levitation with water near the boiling point; namely
  1. Increased vapor pressure of water
  2. Increased formation of bubbles
  3. Decreased surface tension
Thank you, Sophia, for interesting and thought-provoking experiences.

Virginia O'Brien (Higgins Academy)
began by passing out two-sided cards with pictures of animals on one side, and descriptive information on the other.  We placed the cards on the board under these categories

Here is our placement:

These placements are somewhat imprecise, since dogs [definitely the same species as wolves, since they can inter-breed and produce fertile offspring] eat plant products, bears surely eat meat, and alligators will eat anything! 

Question by Porter Johnson:  Where does man fit into this hierarchy? We are by nature omnivores like monkeys, although we can subsist on a vegetarian diet [Brahmans] or one consisting entirely of meat [Inuit].  In any event, you are what you eat [Mann ist was Mann izzt, auf Deutsch.] 

Virginia then showed some animal skulls and read  descriptions of the eating habits of the animals in question:

Diet Length of Skull Animal
Herbivore 40 cm Deer
Herbivore 20 cm Beaver
Carnivore 20 cm Fox
Carnivore 5 cm Mink
Carnivore 2 cm Bat
Finally, Virginia mentioned that kits on dinosaurs, cats, and bats, among others, are available from the following source:
2000-2001 Catalog
Harris Education Loan Program
The Field Museum
1440 S Lake Shore Drive
Chicago IL 60605-2496
(312) 665-2555
Marjorie Fields (Anthony School)
Counting Pennies, Nickels, and Dimes. She passed out an image of a large Cooking Pot, similar to a cast iron Dutch Oven, which she referred to as a "pot of gold".  The object was to guess how many "two dimensional" coins would be required to "fill" the two dimensional pot.  For example, if 20 pennies are required to fill the pot about 1/4 full, then about 80 pennies would be needed to fill up the pot.  Finally, she asked us the question What can you buy with the money you would have? This lesson was a very interesting exercise in estimation, decision making, and problem solving.  Thanks, Marjorie!

Porter Johnson mentioned that utensils like the Dutch Oven is still used in The Netherlands to make a traditional national dish, called stampot.  It is very similar to our "meat and vegetable stew", with potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, meat, and whatever else is available.  According to legend, the residents of the city of Utrecht stayed alive for several month during a siege by the Spanish King during the Thirty Years War, pooling their vegetables and eating stampot from a single large pot, with ingredients added as available.  Without stampot, they would surely have had to surrender, and their country would not exist today.

Leticia Rodriguez (Peck School)
did a primary grade level presentation on Volcano.  She described the interior of the earth as being like a hard-boiled egg.  When you look at it, you see only the shell (earth's crust).  However, if you slice it open, you see the outer layer of egg-white (earth's mantle), as well as the inner core of the yolk (earth's core).

 To illustrate volcanic eruption, she shook a can of pop, and then opened it.  The liquid spewed out of the can and all over table.  A volcano works in a similar fashion.  Inside the earth there are "hot spots" in the mantle, which are weakened and pushed upward by intense pressure deep inside the earth.  The rock melts and becomes more fluid.  Inside the rock there are trapped gases, such as steam, which are released when the rock melts.  The steam escapes to the surfaces, pushing weak spots in the rock with it.  The result: a Volcanic Explosion.  There is also an analogy with a steam train: steam in the train drives the engine, while itself being released into the air in the process.

She made a plaster model of a "pre-volcano", which she set off by mixing baking soda, vinegar, and a little red food coloring in a bottle placed under the model. When the liquid foamed out of the bottle and down the side of the volcano, it looked a lot like hot lava flowing.

Leticia mentioned that volcanoes are responsible for the rich soil in many places, such as Hawaii and the Pacific Coast of the United States.  Volcanoes frequently occur at various points along the ring of fire wrapping around the Pacific Ocean in Indonesia, Philippine Islands, Japan, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and the Pacific Coast of North, Central, and South America.  Her materials were obtained from the book Discovering Volcanoes by Nancy Field and Sally Machlis [Dog Eared Pub 1996] ISBN 0-941-0420-30.

Valvastia Williams (Bass School Band Teacher)
presented a lesson named after the song Dem Bones. the idea was to use the verses of this song, [http://ingeb.org/spiritua/demdrybo.html],such as

Your head bone connected to your neck bone
Your neck bone connected to your shoulder bone
Your shoulder bone connected to your back bone
Your back bone connected to your hip bone   ... 
to study the human anatomy. He showed a picture of the Human Skeleton, with the bones in the following categories




Maxillary;  Mandible (jaws)


Clavicle;  Sternum:  Scapula


Humerus (upper arm)
Radius; Ulna (lower arm)
Carpal (wrist)
Phalanges (fingers)



Hip (pelvis)

Sacrum; Ilium; Ischium


Femur (thigh)
Patella (kneecap)
Fibula; Tibia (lower leg)
Tarsal (ankle)
Metatarsal (foot)
Phalanges (toes)

Val said that he found it useful to know a lot about science while teaching band, to make connections and re-enforcements. For more information check out this website:  https://homes.bio.psu.edu/faculty/strauss/anatomy/skel/skeletal.htm

Iona Greenfield (Carnegie)
compared the measurement of the circumference of our head with our height.  According to one rule-of-thumb, the ratio should be 1 to 3.  Here are some representative data that were taken:

Head Circumference (cm)

Height (cm)





Evidently, there are significant variations in this ratio, depending upon the individual.  This exercise is useful for estimation and calculation, among other things.  It was taken from the Science Horizons, Professional Handbook [Silver Burdett & Ginn 1992] ISBN 0-382-22365-9.

Marva Anyanwu (Green School)
had a configuration with two dark lines on a piece of paper, and two identical mirrors.  She set the mirrors to be perpendicular to the paper, meeting at some angle.  When we looked at the image in the mirror, we saw that it had a rich structure, which varied greatly as the angle between the mirrors was changed.   This device was similar to a kaleidoscope, except that you could "see inside" and understand how it worked.  Try it yourself.  Very interesting, Marva!

Notes taken by Porter Johnson and Earl Zwicker.