10 Days of Science with Math: More on Calculating Velocity

Here is the repost of our Finding Velocity results. This was a great lesson and it spawned two more activities using the LEGO Mindstorms nxt brick. E had to make a marble speed trap using the light sensor and a while later he made a speed trap using the ultrasonic sensor. The update there is that he was successful in measuring the speed of a large ball coming toward the robot- it needed an object bigger than a marble. The important thing to note here is that if you are willing to let your kids explore the answer to a question…there is no limit to the experiences you can have in your homeschool. Just be willing to help facilitate the journey…don’t be intimidated by things you don’t know and try not to get caught up in having everything “ready” before you launch into something. Sometimes that kills a thing before it even gets started!

Here is the much anticipated result of our marble investigation. I was delinquent in getting pictures to go with my results. I have to have the pictures! If you missed the first post on our most excellent math lesson, then go to there and read about it. It was good science!!

The first thing the kids found was that it was hard to get the marble to repeat a good run enough times to record it for five trials in a row. They tried to get the marble to go around the curve correctly each time to no avail. Finally, they ended up making a new chart to record the partial runs. We could calculate the velocity whether or not the marble went all the way to the end of the track.

The data chart-we recorded the time in seconds using a kitchen timer. Each of them took a turn helping to hold up the part of the track near the curve, timing, and letting the marble go.

Then we measured the length of the track at both the partial and final marks and I marked the yarn with the start and partial distance. That was important later on. E11 used a yard stick to record the full and partial length of the track. Then we had the mathematical task of converting the measurement to inches. Note, scientific work is generally done in cm, but I was working with a yard stick not a meter stick so I just went with English measurements this time.

The final calculation page. E11 and R9 used the formula velocity = distance/time to get their answers. The answer was in inches per second. Their marble was traveling 41 inches per second down the marble track.

Then I thought I’d give E11 the challenge of converting our answer from inches per second to miles per hour. That was fun! Yeah…I’m that kind of mom!

Some things to think about- first the kids wanted to give up on the full track runs, but I made them stick with it. E11 was especially annoyed and declared it was all ruined several times, but I reminded him about how scientists meet up with obstacles all the time. Dan helps to manage a university lab full of users who get frustrated the same way. Months of work will come to a crashing halt when they make a mistake or a tool is dirty and ruins a wafer or a tool is broken and breaks something they’ve worked hard on for a long time. There is a delay in forward movement. They have to begin again. That’s how it is in the real world of science! Besides, E11 is a very bright boy who needs to work on perseverance when something is more difficult than he would like to battle.

Also, before we could do calculations, we had to deal with the raw data. We chose to find the median rather than an average in order to do the velocity calculation.

We had trouble importing the video from E11′s camera into Picasa so for now the video of the run will wait. Next time… Aha! E11 just informed me that his camera card was not wiped so perhaps, with my help, we’ll load up some video for you. That was part of the challenge that day.

All in all a fantastic activity for math and science. I wonder what we’ll do next!
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Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of Science with Math: Finding Velocity

**This is a repost of an activity we did in November of 2009- two years ago now. The title of the original post was “Measuring the Velocity of a Marble or How to Have a Rockin’ Math Lesson”. This is the perfect example of how to capitalize on the interests of your children as you develop your schooling/lessons.

As I was finishing up on my computer one morning last week, I was reflecting on what type of family math lesson we’d have for the day when I heard the kids in our playroom having a good time building and testing a marble roller coaster. The roller coaster rocks because you can watch the marble the whole time. It rides on top of a track. How is that not fun?

That’s when it came to me…so I shouted downstairs…do you want to find out how fast that marble is going?

The reply came quickly and loudly, “YEAH!!!”

So, we gathered at the school table and did some brainstorming. The first thing I asked them is what they thought we might need in order to find out the speed. We quickly determined we did not have any equipment that could just measure speed. E11 remembered from our Explorers unit last spring (He read Carry On Mr. Bowditch) that we just needed to measure the time it took the marble to go a particular distance. Woohoo!

So we talked about how we might measure the distance of the track. They had a lot of really good ideas. R9 suggested that the distance between the rails of the track were the same and we could measure one and then count how many there are and multiply to get the length of the track. Then they thought instead of the individual rectangles, they could measure track spans and add them up. Of course allowances and special measurements would need to be addressed at the curved track pieces.

They came up with using a sewing tape measure which could bend and finally using yarn to mimic the track and then measuring the yarn length which is ultimately what they chose. Very interesting to watch this process. We did discuss later on which would be the most efficient and perhaps the most accurate method, but I let them explore because that’s what it’s all about.

The start of the track- it began high on the toy shelf and made a drop to a loop-d-loop.

This track ended in the “kitchen oven” where the marbles collected on cookie trays.
There was a problem with the track at the turn. Sometimes it’s hard to get the marble to negotiate the turn in the track. In the end, we had to have two ways to write down our time- one for runs of the full track and one for runs only to the curve.
I had the kids take turns writing on the chalkboard the things we’d be measuring or finding out- in the case of the speed of the marble.

In the end they decided to go with using yarn to determine the length of the track.

In the next post, I will share the results and how the kids determined the speed of the marble. We had some good discussions about the realities of being a good scientist.

Stay tuned for the results of our challenge- more math with our science!

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of Science with Math: Relevant Resources

Today I want to share with you another great resource for math in your science. I discovered Yummy Math sometime during the last school year and it is really good stuff! I like to just see what is up on the home page because it always has seasonal items and current events right there. However, you can always search the site for topics that relate to what you are studying right now.

This is primarily middle school math, but you could modify the activities for younger kids. Lots of pre-algebra skills and beyond. Last year my then 7th grader was graphing lines and conic sections…how can you go wrong with an activity that asks your student to graph the parabola he is going to make as he shovels snow in the driveway? How?

Here are a few fine examples so you can have a guided glimpse!

I could go on and on! Seriously, this is an amazing resource for applied math. You won’t be disappointed when you go looking for something relevant for math in your science.

Thanks for stopping by. If you have another resource to share, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of Science with Math: Bird Count Data

Today I’m going to share a source of data with you. Sometimes having math with your science is just a matter of where to look for some data. You don’t always have to generate it yourself!

Sites like eBird, Avian Knowledge Network, and The Great Backyard Bird Count all provide data sets on numbers of birds spotted. What can you do with this data?

  • you can calculate averages and medians
  • make graphs
  • make box and whisker plots
  • compare bird data – see if you can make conclusions based on what you find

It’s important to note that the Avian Knowledge Network has large downloads of data, make sure you choose a chunk of data that you can work with easily. Even if you cannot use everything there, you can make your own data list of a manageable number of data sets for your student.

Just a note that eBird is a great way to tally and count birds daily at times other than the GBBC. What a great way to have kids make a data chart and use tally marks! Be sure to log in and give your information to eBird. eBird is just one of the ways you can be a Civilian Scientist with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Tomorrow I’ll share another source for data and it will have lots of math concepts included. Stay tuned!

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

10 Days of Science with Math: Reaction Time

Today’s science with math idea is a lab exercise on Reaction Time…the time it takes our bodies to react to a stimulus. Perhaps you’ve done this before or perhaps you’ve seen similar things at a science center. Our local one has a display, but it’s computerized. This one is going to be old school. You’ll need a ruler and a data chart.

How It’s Done:

Two kids will need to work together at a time or you can be the helper. One person will be dropping the ruler and the other will be catching it. They face each other and the ruler will be held above the participant’s hands at about eye level. The participant chooses which hand will do the catching- I suggest starting with the dominant hand. He’ll be catching the ruler between his thumb and fore finger when it is released. Remember to hold the ruler so that it is dropping with the lower numbers going first.

The object is to catch the ruler and read out what number was “caught” on the ruler. If the ruler was caught and the number 4 is read on the ruler, then you record the distance on your chart. Prepare a data chart ahead of time by determining the number of trials you will do and you might want to do left and right hands to see if there is a difference.

Now if you are working with a large classroom of kids, then there’s plenty of math to go around on this one. With just a few kids in the house, you may have to get creative on finding more numbers or you can just adjust the number of times you try. It’s important to discuss what additional trials are for. Why do you want to do the experimental procedure more than once? How many is enough? What would a good scientist do? More than one go at the experiment will tell you if your results are typical or if one or another try was an outlier compared to the rest. In addition, it will tell you if your results are repeatable. When a scientist publishes a study in a journal, one of the highest compliments is whether or not the results can be replicated. In fact, a journal committee will want to know if the experiment was replicated. It greatly diminishes the work of a scientist if others cannot achieve the same results and it calls into question the reliability of the study.  So, the number of trials is important. Discuss these things as you choose how to make the data chart.

Of course, there are ways to work with data and study it to see the trends and ultimately see whether or not there are relationships between variables, etc. Today we can look at taking the average reaction time. You can also teach median and mode and do something called box and whisker plots which basically allow you to look at the range of your data and see where most of it is clustered. All of these will introduce statistics to your children.

Source Wikipedia- an example box and whisker plot plotted on a graph

If you have more than one student doing this exercise, you can use the data from all the trials of several kids to do the statistical analysis. That’s probably enough data since you are just starting out! Box and whisker plots let you look visually at the 25th and 75th percentile (the top and bottom of the box), while the middle of the box is always the median. The ends of the lines are usually the maximum and minimum values, but you can choose other parameters for them. In the example above, you can see how the plots help to see how data is distributed.

Once you’ve found these values and you look at your data, discuss with your children what trends you see. Perhaps there is a relationship between age and reaction time? Gender? Handedness?

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments! Stay tuned for another day of science with math tomorrow.

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy