Hey Ms. McKnight, do you think we could…. These are my favorite words of all time. I have found that whenever my students say this it leads us to some amazing learning. Over the years, this phrase has led to some amazing projects in my classroom. Today we saw the outcome of one of these great statements.
At the beginning of the term in my pre-calculus 12 class, I gave my students the term project handout. My students were given a list of various projects they could do over the term to earn 20 marks. There were small items like tutoring a younger student or teaching a grade 8 math class or reading a non-fiction math book or interview a person who loves math or do a movie critique of the math. The choices were huge but one student at the back of the room says do you think I could make a wooden rocket. Ok explain the math to me. He tells me about the math needed to create it in the woodshop and the calculations for blasting with the right force. But he really got me when he said we could use it as an example in our physics forces unit. Ok he got me! Cross curricular work. Of course, you can do it.
So today, we all went outside as a class to watch the launch. The class was supportive but really expecting it to be anticlimactic. But were we ever wrong. His first flight went straight up and out of site. When it finally came down everyone was amazed. But then the real exploration happened because the class was asking how high it went. Of course, me answer is always the same “I am not sure. How could we figure that out?”
Students grabbed phones to look up ways to measure it. Many ideas were formulated and they all wanted try a different method. So, we had to set up a second launch. Student were videotaping, timing and measuring with astrolabes. The math and science and learning was so evident. This is what school should be.
I have to say the best part of today for me was seeing all the grade 7 & 8 students in my school staring out the windows of their class to see what the senior STEAM students were doing. As we came in all they wanted to know was what science class that was. And I was so happy to tell them all it was a math project and help them understand that math is not just textbooks and worksheets. This is my goal in life as an educator and I hope everyone can join my cause. School needs to be about fun and it will lead to learning and enjoyment and success for our students.