Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Measuring Matter

I know it has been a LONG time since I have been around with a content post. But I have been taking a break from spending all my time working/related to working. And honestly, it has been a wonderful thing. I am enjoying time with my husband and daughter, spending time with friends, and enjoying my hobbies. But I did want to share with you all something I did with my students. My class (as I am sure ANY other class) loves to do hands on activities. Especially in science. They have loved doing STEM activities. We are currently learning about matter and I felt like the best way for them to fully grasp mass and volume and measuring matter was for them to actually measure. And they LOVED it. I tried to find something that would incorporate the basics of measuring but I just couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so I quickly made something and gathered some classroom supplies for the students to measure. 

This little packet includes three basic activities for students to practice measuring mass, volume, and length/diameter. I wanted to get the students familiar with terms and tools used. 
One of the stations that students participate in is measuring length. The main point of this station is to make sure students are using the correct side of the ruler. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen children make is to use inches when they are supposed to be measuring in centimeters. The students measured the height inside an empty cup, how many centimeters of water are in another cup (think rain gauge type measuring), the diameter of a roll of tape and then the diameter of the inner circle (the cardboard) of the tape. This one was pretty simple at surface level. But a mini math lesson was also included. Students had to measure to the nearest centimeter and HALF centimeter. I found that some of my students weren't really aware that when measuring to the nearest half you could still end up with a whole number. 

Another activity included is the measuring mass station. This, I would say, was the fan favorite! Students first had to practice finding the mass of common classroom items using a balance scale and gram stackers. They measured a glue stick, a bar magnet, and some stacking cubes. They loved being able to measure mass of items and try to figure out what needed to be adjusted to find the correct mass. Once students had enough practice measuring mass they had to apply their skills to finding the mass of a liquid in a container. They were given a full Capri Sun and an empty Capri Sun pouch. The students had to find the mass of the full and empty pouches. They then had to figure out how they could use those two measurements to find the mass of JUST the liquid that is in the full pouch.  I loved watching them try to figure out how they could do this and make the realization of WHY they were doing what they were doing.

The last activity we did was to practice measuring volume of irregularly shaped objects by using water and graduated cylinders. The first thing students had to do was practice pouring given amounts of water. I made them call me over after each amount they were to practice pouring so that I could check and sign off on it. The point of this was to teach students that they need to get eye level with the graduated cylinder in order to make sure they have the right amount. After they mastered the measuring of just the water, students had to find the volume of pencil top erasers by putting them in the water and seeing how much the water level increased. They put in one eraser, then two, then predicted what the volume of three erasers would be.

I would have to say that these activities were a huge hit. I originally planned for it to only be a one period lesson but I wanted to make sure to FULLY explain each station and what was expected of them so it ended up taking us two periods. Which I was fine with it because they were fully engaged in their learning and genuinely excited.

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