Elementary Mathematics-Science SMILE Meetings
14 December 1999
Notes prepared by Earl Zwicker

Section A

Margia Artis (Herzl School)
had us making "Bouncing Buttons." (handout) Using a 1 qt jar, we added water (2 cups) and vinegar (0.5 cups), and several colorful plastic buttons, which settled to the bottom. But then, upon adding baking soda (about 0.5 teaspoon), the mixture began fizzing and sending up bubbles. Margia asked us to observe, and we saw some of the buttons rise up to the top, only to drop back down eventually. Explain! This is what she asks her students to do, which stimulates them to think and analyze their observations. Useful over a wide range of academic grade levels! Thanks, Margia!

Mikail Siddiq (Raymond School)
had us competing, 5 rows of us, each row trying to win a game of Jeopardy! It was well-organized, with a monitor at each row, and a score-keeper up front at the board, to keep track of the total for each row. Mikail would ask a question about earth science (eg. For $300: Earth's core is mostly a) nickel-iron, b) silicon-nickel, c) aluminum-nickel, d) copper-silicon.) The first row to come up with an answer would get Mikail's attention through their monitor, and give their answer. If correct, the points would be added to their score on the board. If wrong, the next row to volunteer an answer would try. And so it went. We were all very involved and had an exciting time. Mikail had a great many excellent questions, and we proved to be a knowledgeable bunch of students! Many of us wanted to get a list of Mikail's questions to use with our own students. Wonderful!

Chandra Price (Burnham School)
(handout) used ideas from "Art from Wood" to excite us. From a collection of leaves, cat tails, colorful bird feathers and other woodsy things, Chandra challenged us to create collages on sheets of cardboard (about 14x16 sq in) which might tell some sort of story, or form a design or picture. Before long we had many colorful and beautiful collages which we wished we had more time to admire. Of course, students could learn so much be observing the natual ingredients, identifying them, and learning about their functions. Inspiring!

Jean Essig (Woods School)
(handout, Merry Math) gave us each a brown gingerbread man, cut from heavy paper. With materials (buttons, glue, etc) we decorated them. Had time allowed, we would have compared the ways in which they were alike and in which they differed. Aspects of literature and math and art were all involved in these activities. Students would cut out and decorate many gingerbread men, each of which would differ by one attribute from the one made before it. Learning is fun!

Glenda Ellis (Williams School)
gave each of us a page listing the names of people and what each did. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/bioindex.html She challenged us (as she does her students) to debate who did the most important things and why. Her students would get more detailed information from any sources they could, including the web. Neat!

Marie Wong (Warren School)
had all kinds of fruits, vegetables, on the table, and she soon had us cut them open to learn about the seeds they contained, make drawings of where they were found, count them, describe their shapes. We could even graph the results: number of seeds vs the source (orange, apple, tomato, peach, bell pepper, etc.) Again, many skills were developed. Finger-licken good!

Imara Abdullah (Douglas School)
gave each of us 4 pages, the first showing drawings of bats. She got us involved in a discussion of what they were. She asked us questions, we came up with answers, more questions followed, and we learned more about bats than we had known. Next was an owl, then a chicken and a cow with the words milk and eggs. More dialogue on each of these, and we learned more about each. Last page showed -in pictorial-style drawings - how to go about organizing a science fair type investigation, starting with the problem (the question you are asking), and going from there. Fascinating!

Sophia Watson (Manley HS)
(handout, Coloring and Colorfastness: The Art of Dyeing). To each of two jars on the table, she added water and a (green) food coloring dye. Then a teaspoon of vinegar was added to one. Sophia placed one hard boiled egg in each of the jars. At the end of one minute, timed by Ken Schug, Sophia removed the eggs and held them up for us to see. The egg that was dyed in the jar with the vinegar was a deeper shade of green than the other! Many related experiments were suggested: Does the concentration of vinegar matter? Temperature? Time? Color of the dye? How does one explain results? Good science!

Shirley Cesair (Henderson School)
made some bubble solution while we watched, using water, Dawn or Joy, glycerin. Using straws and containers (made from aluminum foil) or foam cups, we blew into the straws and made bubbles. Some were single, even one inside another. Others were large stacks of bubbles, overflowing a cup. Who can make the biggest bubble? The longest lasting? (handout). This also lends itself to a variety of investigations, as well as being fun.

Section B:

Iona Greenfield (Carnegie School)
showed us Preferences in Drinks: regular Coke vs Diet Coke. (5 page handout) Placing a can of each in water, Iona showed us that diet Coke floats, and regular Coke sinks. Why? Possible explanations were offered, and reading the ingredients of each from the sides of the cans helped to provide clues to possible answers. It was also noted that Diet Coke freezes more easily than regular Coke. Ahah! Iona's handout was in the form of a lab experiment in which students make measurements of mass, volume, density, % sugar for both Cokes, and do the same with an "unknown" liquid. Many questions at the end, like: Why was it necessary for the soft drinks to be at room temperature? Good physics!

Stephanie Ruffin (Metcalf Community Academy)
gave us each a handout on Picture Poetry. For an ecology unit, different concepts were used together. "Dirty Rice" looks like dirt and rice, but tastes good. (Recipe available on request.) Next, list adjectives to describe a tree (we had about 40) - imagery for a tree. Then adjectives to describe an old tree (knarled tree with branches bending down and over). We all drew word pictures of a tree. The words are drawn in letters which are made to be in the shape of a tree and its leaves falling down, and words taking the shape of a pile of leaves. Creative!

Pearline Scott (Franklin Fine Arts Center)
held up a piece of paper from one end and blew across its top surface, which then moved up. Why? Bernoulli effect - pressure is lowered at the surface where air is moving. Pearline gave us detailed plans (handouts) for a Star Ship, Global Flyer, Classic Glider, and Helicopter. Thanks, Pearline!

Porter Johnson (IIT)
told us about a Super Duper Full Moon (handout) we should look for on Dec 22 1999. Don't miss it! From what is described, it should be a remarkable thing to see!

Janet Sheard (West School, Glencoe)
showed us that a "winding mountain road" is really an inclined plane, (handout). Janet also showed other simple machines involving pencils and books to convince ourselves of the (mechanical) advantage of levers, and how to show inertia using a clothespin, glass and card (handout). A book, Physics for Every Kid, by Janice Van Cleave, is a very useful resource ISBN 0-471-52505-7. Great stuff!

Melinda Ross (Hefferan School)
asked us: Is air matter? "Yes" we replied. Can it take up space? "Yes." She gave us each a "baggie" and a handout (The Empty Sack). What about the baggie? We filled our baggie with air and twisted its open end tightly shut. With the air inside it became "stiff" - more like a solid object. Melinda got her students to find their own words to describe what they observed. And she runs a dialogue with them about molecules of air and pressure. Simple, but elegant in its simplicity!

Brian Cagle (Cook School)
gave us Weird Science Part II:

How does this work? Can you explain? Have fun!