What can you tell about a snowflake?

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As a snowflake falls from the sky, its crystal grows according to the humidity and temperatures of the air that it passes through.

In this activity, students interpret a graphic that clarifies that growth and try to deduce what conditions various flakes moved through as they fell.

The activity finishes with the creation of a possibly accurate, six-pointed paper snowflake. These could be winter decorations for your classroom.

The activity: Snowflakes.pdf

Wrapping presents on the diagonal

Dr. Sara Santos is a popular mathematician and speaker on mathematics.  She has worked out a method for wrapping boxes (rectangular prisms) as efficiently as possible. (Watch the video above)  Her method was written up in this article in Mental Floss and she was interviewed about her wrapping paper method in this video clip from The One Show.

In this activity students determine if this method for minimizing wrapping paper is actually more efficient then the traditional method.   For a hands on learning experiment, have students actually wrap a small rectangular prism using any available paper in both the traditional and diagonal methods. Then let them compare the two quantities of wrapping paper and decide which method uses less paper and by what percent.

Wind chill

The weather forecasters tell us what the wind chill temperature will feel like. How do they figure out that number?

Dudley on a cold and windy day.

In this activity students use the National Weather System chart to gauge wind chill, examine the patterns that correlate increasing wind and/or decreasing temperatures, use wind chill numbers to estimate possible wind and temperature factors, and generally become familiar with this sort of interpolation and calculation.  Also check out this windchill calculator, which you can use to quickly find the windchill for a given temperature and wind speed.

The activity:  WindChill.pdf

Hanukkah is almost here!

Egad, Hanukkah begins this year on Sunday evening, November 28th. I think it was in December last year. Why isn't it always on the same date? Students look at the Hebrew calendar and appreciate the incredible mathematics involved in creating a calendar that aligns both the moon's revolution about the Earth and the Earth's revolution about the Sun.

The activity: hebrew-calendar2021.pdf

Thanksgiving, shopping, football and giving

barbecued-smoked-turkeyHow should I cook my turkey? - Students judge timing, cost, tastiness, and quantity necessary as they plan for the feast. 4.MD.1, 5.NBT.7, 4.MD2, 6.RP.3, 6.NS.3, 7.NS.3  Great video on a deep frying fire with William Shatner.

Lots of Cranberries - In this timely activity, students learn about how cranberries are grown and harvested; estimate their size and quantities; and see what they can deduce from published statistics. 5.MD, 6.RP, 6.SP, 7.G.B, 8.G

Not enough mashed potatoes - Use Brian's famous mashed potatoes recipe to practice changing decimals to fractions; calculating ingredient measure for various-sized Thanksgiving servings; have students explain their reasoning; and to have students figure out how many servings 7½ pounds of potatoes would make. 5.NF.6 , 5.NF.6 , 6.RP.1 , 6.RP.2 , 6. RP.3 , 7.RP.1

2 New Macy’s Parade balloons

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As the Macy's Parade returns to public viewing, here are two balloons that Macy's artists have added. Can you figure out their dimensions? Macy's give their dimensions in bicycle lengths, taxi widths, and stories tall.  Students use proportional reasoning in this short, but happy, activity.

The activity: 2NewMacy'sBalloons2021.pdf