Window Curtain Math Problem

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I have been meaning to post about one of our math inquiries for some time now, so here goes!

Math Problem:  Our Tim Horton's window does not have any curtains.  My mom said that she would help us to make curtains.  How much material do we need? Show how you know.


Students' Initial Theories:

J.J.: Maybe we can sew using yarn.
N.Z.: I think we can sew using wool.
J. G.: We need enough material to cover the Tim Horton's window.  We need something to make the curtains on top.
R.J.: Maybe it is something that we can measure.
Ms. Babalis: What would a mathematician do?
J.G.: We need to know how many materials we need.
Ms. Babalis: How could we figure this out?
J.G.: We have to figure it out by trying to find something to measure by.

The students continued to draw about their theories.  J.G. drew his window and wrote that, "I think I need something to make it move on top."

Then we invited my mom in to push the students' thinking forward with regards to the amount of material necessary to cover the window, as well as to help them design their window curtains.

On their own, the students decided to measure the window using stir sticks, measuring tapes, and rulers.  It was really interesting to watch the variety of ways they were making decisions around how to best determine how much material was needed to cover the window.

N.Z.: I think you can make a curtain like a rainbow.

 That afternoon the students agreed upon the number 49 on the measuring tape and three and half stir sticks.  With this information in mind, my mom went home to prepare the material!

We continued our discussion around measurement, and waited eagerly for her next visit.

The students created lists of what they would need and the procedure that they would follow to create the window curtains.

They reviewed their theories, designs, and plans.  Everything was put into motion!


And voila!

All their hard work and learning paid off!

What I love most about learning through inquiry and problem solving, is not only that it is real for our students but that they take ownership of their own learning.  They are the ones that share what they learned during our class meetings, and in doing so teach their peers.

A special thank you to my mom for her patience and expertise!

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