30 Oct 2008 3 Comments
in School Stuff
Or, should school be fun for a 14 year old? I just said today on our HS group’s chat board that sometimes it isn’t easy making school ‘fun’ as kids get older. I mean c’mon, sometimes learning is boring and there is stuff you think you don’t need to know, but probably should know and maybe it’s boring. I’m not a miracle worker; some stuff is just going to be boring.
So, after regular schoolwork today we broke out our bag of marshmallows and went outside to do some fun stuff. How can I make modeling chemical reactions fun?
I had Joel balance a few equations on the sidewalk and then he had to model them with marshmallows and balance them. (It’s NH3 + CuO = N2 + Cu + H2O, balanced it’s 2NH3 + 3CuO = N2 + 3 Cu + 3 H2O.)
I think the marshmallows worked better than chalk, you can see where an H disappears in the first one and then is balanced out in the second equation.
Outside we used the marshmallows to discover force and what happens to things that aren’t strapped in (like we didn’t already know that!) It’s called ‘crashmallow’, sorry the ‘c’ got clipped off in the pic.
We put a marshmallow on a toy car (we had to try 3 cars to get it to work) and then pushed it down the hill colliding it with a ruler. The marshmallow was thrown from the car varying lengths according to how much force we used. Bethany threw hers 3 feet, but it kind of rolled down the hill too, so I’m not sure that was such a great measurement.
Bethany had a quick review of place value; I had her hop on the ones, tens or hundreds box when I stepped on a number.
Grace was hopping on letters spelling out words; she added a few letters to make other words.
Hannah thought that would be fun too, so I had her go to a letter when I said it.
She found A, H and T and spelled hat. Back inside the marshmallows were being used to make 3-d space figures and Hannah made a colored pattern without any help!
What else can you do with a bag of colored marshmallows?
Learn about ratios and proportions, estimate, model figures, do some geometry (make line segment OY – orange, yellow), use them as math counters, spell words by making them into letters, make a tabletop trebuchet and use them as cannonballs (nope, we haven’t made our trebuchet yet), blow them up in the microwave and talk about the reaction that just took place, feed them to the dog (not that I would advise that), eat them!
OK, so I tried to make chemistry more fun and Joel does have a better understanding of the balancing of an equation, but I still insist that not everything needs to be fun (I’m off to make a model of the Eiffel tower out of marshmallows….)