Holidays and Annual Events

Investigations that relate to regular annual events.

Columbus and navigation

The Niña Columbus Day is a bit of an enigma that used to be celebrated all through the Americas.  Columbus’s mission and arrival are now thought to have not been a noble endeavor in the way that indigenous people were treated.  Now,…

Labor Day, 2016

In this short activity, students learn the meaning and history of Labor Day as they look for patterns emerging from the Labor Day dates over the past years. Students then use those observed patterns to predict future dates of the…

How much does it cost to go back to school?

Back to school spending is huge and students might not appreciate what it costs to send them back to, essentially, their job of learning.  In this activitiy students decide what equipment and supplies are necessary, estimate how much that will…

August meteor showers

Conditions will be favorable for excellent views of the Perseids meteor showers in early to mid-August.  Let students read charts, analyze data, work with percent of moon visibility at each phase, and understand apparent magnitude in the night sky with…

Lighting the Olympic Torch

The 2016 Summer Olympic games won’t begin until on August 5th of this year but already the Olympic Torch has been lit and is traveling to the game’s site, Brazil, by 12,000 relay participants. Watch the lighting video and wonder…

The longest day

On Monday, June 20th, at 06:34 pm EST, the Earth’s North Pole will be tilted as far towards the Sun as it will ever be in the year.  This marks the longest day of the year and the summer solstice in the…

The Boston Marathon

Monday, April 17, Patriot’s Day, is the next running of the Boston Marathon. What do you know about marathons? What do you know about the Boston Marathon? How long do you think the marathon is? Make your best guess. How…

Giant chocolate bunnies

Topper Chocolate Easter Bunny from Dilettante Chocolates. What can you deduce about the bunnies (pictured in this activity) from the descriptions given … solid? hollow? cost per pound? cost per height? Anything else? The activity: GiantChocolateBunnies.pdf

It’s Girl Scout cookie time

Have you ever wondered how the income from Girl Scout cookie sales is distributed to the individual girls, to their Troops, or to the organization? In this activity students learn a little about the organization of the Girl Scouts, try to…

Data on the National Mall sites

Activity #1 – Look at the individuals who are memorialized on the National Mall and using fractions or percents decide what you can notice about those we honor.  If you would like to show images of the monuments and memorials to…

Soda Menorah

Happy Holidays! This Soda Menorah was on display in a Florida Target store.  It is made up entirely of 12-packs of Coca-Cola products. What questions do you have? Start out the activity by giving kids 30 seconds to look at…

Why does the date of Hanukkah keep changing?

Just updated for 2016! Saturday evening, December 24th, is the first night of Hanukkah this year. I think it was much earlier in December last year. Why isn’t it always on the same date? Students look at the Hebrew calendar…

Not enough mashed potatoes

Using his famous mashed potato recipe, Brian has asked students to change decimals to fractions, to calculate ingredient measures for various-sized Thanksgiving gatherings, to explain their thinking in calculating these figures and to judge how many servings could be created…

How should I cook my turkey?

Should I oven bake it, deep fry it or barbecue and smoke it?  When do I have to wake up to begin preparations? How long will the cooking take?  How much will it cost?  How many can I feed?  Will there…