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Big Learning News 4-6-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:11 April 6, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Batting Averages
Activity: Go Fly a Kite
Book Review: New Dinos
Web Site: Bird Houses

Math Moment

Batting Averages


Here in the Washington D.C. area we've got baseball fever, with the arrival of our very own team, the Washington Nationals. If your child is interested in baseball, you've got a veritable goldmine of math moments to choose from throughout the summer.

Today, go to the Major League Baseball official home page and scroll down about halfway, you'll see a box labeled "Stats." Select "AVG," "MLB," and "2005" at the bottom of the STATS box. Click "GO" and you'll get a chart showing the players with the top batting averages so far this season (the last column in the table).

What's interesting about this is that because it's so early in the season, the averages are very high - the top player today has an average of .750! Since, over a whole season, the highest averages are in the .300's, ask your kids to consider why the average might be so high now.

Also a great time to talk about decimal places - .750 means 750/1000, or seven-hundred fifty out of 1000, or 75 out of a hundred, or 75%, which is the same as 3/4.



Go Fly a Kite


Spring is kite-flying season, and the American Kite Flying Association has lots of free publications to help you get off the ground. Kite flying is a great big-learning hobby - it involves math, science, history, along with problem-solving and strategic thinking.

At the top-left corner of the AKA home page, click on table of contents, then publications, then select one of the publications from the menu. That will take you to the page with all the publications. Highlights include:

How to Fly a Kite - A detailed manual with kite history, kite parts, flying tips, and lots more.

Kites in the Classroom - Teachers will love these great ideas for connecting kite flying to various content areas.

Professor Kite and the Secrets of Kites - a quick two-page leaflet for kids with flying and safety tips.

If you would like to make your own kite, we have a kite-making article to help you out at http://www.biglearning.org/zsewakite.htm.


Book Review

New Dinos by Shelley Tanaka, illustrated by Alan Barnard (Madison Press, 2002)

Ages 9-13

This is a fabulous book that updates kids on the latest dino-discoveries . They'll love being able to say things like, "Scientists now think the Velociraptor had hairlike feathers, not reptile scales."

Many kids will be surprised to learn that dinosaur science is still so exciting, with new species being discovered nearly every seven weeks. In the mid-to-late 1990's, scientists unearthed amazing finds - a fossilized dinosaur heart, dinosaur eggs with the embryos intact, and sauropod leg bones so big they were at first mistaken for tree trunks.

The writing has a snappy did'ja know pace, but may be too technical for a younger listener (though adults could scan it and report the fun facts and big numbers). The design and artwork complements the newsy feel, with headlined blocks of text artfully arranged around vivid color paintings of the dinosaurs and photos of the fossils.

There are thoughtful touches too, like a map showing where the big finds happened and a pronunciation guide.

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Web Site

Bird Houses


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has a free pamphlet online to help you enjoy watching birds nesting in your yard, whether you want to build your own bird houses or buy them.

The pamphlet tells you what kinds of houses your favorite species prefer, how to mount them, and how to make your habitat more attractive to each species.


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Big Learning News 2005 Karen Cole
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