Friday, January 09, 2004

Triple Beam Balances

Back to fun activities again! Taught the kids to use the triple beam balances today. I am extremely methodical when I teach them to use a new instrument - we take it one micro-step at a time. I think I did a good job explaining how & why the balance works, not just how to use it. We are measuring the mass of various objects and making a big chart on the board. Each group measures a pencil, paint jar, paperclip, video, and other objects, and we will compute the average mass of each object and graph the results (squeezing in some math skills practice for good measure!). Next week, we'll learn how to find the mass of a liquid in a container, by subtracting the mass of the container... fun, fun, fun! The kids like it, too - I got at least one comment that it was fun. I am going to ask the school health clinic if we can visit and have a lesson on using their scale to measure our own masses in kilograms (that is, if they have a scale!). That will require some sensitivity and an opt-out clause, since kids may be sensitive about their weight. I am really trying to give my kids an intuitive sense of what a gram is, what a kilogram is, though, like we have for pounds... actually, I am still developing that sense myself!

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