Thursday, March 30, 2006

How many dollar bills in a ton?

Lest anyone think I've been on vacation today, let me share an activity I put together. I'm teaching the sixth graders how to use the triple beam balance next week. The first day, they'll simply practice by measuring the mass of various common objects, with extra time for playing (measuring objects of their own choosing). The next day, to help them get a more intuitive sense of what a gram, kilogram, and ton are like, I'm having them measure/calculate how many pennies, paperclips, and dollar bills are in a kilogram and in a ton. (A metric ton, of course).

Test your own metric intuition: Predict how many pennies, paperclips, and dollar bills are in a kilogram, and how many are in a ton, and put your answers in the comments. Then, if you have access to a balance, you can measure; otherwise, I'll share my students' results in a few days.

I like teaching this stuff. The kids walk away with skills they didn't have at the start of the week. It's so easy to tell who learned it and who didn't, and to get that sense of gratification of knowing that you actually taught them something.

(NB: They are the large Staples paperclips coated in colored plastic, if that makes a difference to anyone's estimating).

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm...I'm betting:

500 pennies

800-1000 paper clips

5000 dollars (in ones)

2:06 AM  
Blogger Mr. Person said...

If you have access to a balance?

You folks make a lot of dough over there, I think. : )

Mass, right, not weight, although I guess in some sense it doesn't matter. So I would predict, being completely metrically clueless, 250 pennies, 1,000 paper clips, and about 1,000 dollar bills.

9:43 PM  

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