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Big Learning News 6-08-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:17 June 8, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Circle art
Activity: Program a robot
Web Site : Be a Police Sketch Artist
Big Learning Workshops in June

Math Moment

Circle Art

Ages 7 and up, with adult help to get started


Go buy a stack of the cheapest paper plates you can find, a pack of bobby pins, and a roll of tape, and you'll be ready for a fun bit of hands-on geometry.

Artist Bradford Hansen-Smith creates geometric art by folding paper plates and connecting them with bobby pins and tape. You can do the same by following the instructions on his site. In doing so, you'll make geometric solids your kids may only have encountered on a page in a math book - tetrahedrons, octahedrons, and others. It's easiest to follow the instructions with actual paper plates in your hands (rather than trying to imagine how the steps work). Once you make a shape yourself, it's very easy to explain it to a child. The shapes take just a minute or two to fold.

On the Gallery pages of the site you can see pages of complex shapes Hansen-Smith has created. The How-to pages take you step-by-step through the creation of a sphere, a tetrahedron, an octahedron, and an icosahedron (16 triangular surfaces). Hansen-Smith clearly loves the math and can't resist slipping a lot of terminology into his instructions and pointing out cool mathematical features of the shapes-in-progress. That makes the pages very rich but a little hard to follow at first - don't let that scare you into thinking the shapes are hard to make.



More math resources and our Math Moments archives on our Fun Math for Kids page on BigLearning.org - http://www.biglearning.org/big-learning-math-activities.htm

Activity: Program a Robot

http://www.omsi.edu/visit/tech/activities.cfm - click on "Robot Obstacle Course"

Ages 8-11

The Robot Obstacle Course presents you with a path, a robot, and a set of shapes on the path. You have to tell your robot to jump over certain kinds of shapes - say the "red squares" - by clicking to create a rule. The wrong rule makes your robot fall through a trap door, but you get to try again. The right rule gets you to the goal, and you are rewarded by a harder problem. The robot stops to "think" at each shape, comparing the shape to the rule you made. That makes the simulation go really slowly, but the problems are interesting.


Web Site

Be a Police Sketch Artist

The Art of Crime Detection


This "artedventure" lets kids exercise their memory for faces and their descriptive powers - both verbal and visual. They are shown a face (the "criminal") and then asked to choose noses, eyes, etc. to try to produce a likeness of the face, as a police sketch artist would.


More art activities for kids - see our Art for Kids and Families page on BigLearning.org - http://www.biglearning.org/treasureart.htm


Workshop Fun for June

Do you live the Washington, D.C. metro area? You can attend one of my very-fun Big Learning workshops. Here is the June schedule.

Gardening Together: A Big Learning Workshop for Families
Saturday, June 18, 1:30-3:30 pm Garrett Park Town Hall

$25.00 for one adult and one child, $8.00 for additional family members 5 and up.
Grow your child's math, science, and literacy skills along with the carrots. You and your kids will get your hands dirty while learning about seeds, soil, and even bugs. This is an afternoon of Big Learning fun for parents and kids 5-12, plus a summerful of garden learning to take home.

Sign up or get more information at http://www.biglearning.org/workshops/ .

Contact me about doing a workshop in your area.

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Big Learning News 2005 Karen Cole
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