Friday, May 13, 2016

Patent Laws, Areas of Shapes and Launching into Structures - June is on its way!

It is weird to think that May is already here and June is just around the corner. However, when I feel the energy in my classroom, it is evident that these Grade 7 students are ready to move and get going into action. This week the goal was to have a short launch into their activity and then send them loose to explore, try and play. The learning goals for this week were:

  • Through understanding forces, we can prevent failure of a structure
  • Understand area is the space taken up by a 2D object
  • Explore the relationship between finding the area of a rectangle to the creation of a formula for the area of a triangle
This week was the wrap up of the solar oven project since we cooked our s'mores on Friday. With the twist of having students decide if they should make their results of experiments for public or private use, I wanted to take time to explore how this is applied in the world outside our classroom through patents. I decided to have a discussion period where students would understand and question how patents can motivate as well as make it difficult to innovate. 

To launch, I used the Poll Everywhere app to have the students share anonymously how they felt about making the results of their solar oven experiments for others to use. Through the different questions it was identified that:
  • In this project, students made all of the experiments public for others to us, but if there was the option of charging their peers a chocolate bar to use their ideas they would have done so. 
  • If they knew that not everyone in the class had a chocolate bar to spend, there was a slight shift to making it public but the majority still remained keeping it private and charging. 
  • When asked what they think causes people to want to create inventions, the highest ranked choice was because they had a problem to solve, but also the idea of financial rewards appeared. 
After discussing the results of our class data, I walked them through the process of getting a patent and outlining the time and investment of money that is required. We searched on the international database of patents to see if an idea we had for our solar oven was already created. They found this challenging and time consuming. They also saw how inventions that are patented show how to make and produce the invention to everyone online, which they saw as a way to spark ideas in others...if others could find the patent. 

We then took time to ask why inventions had not been created to solve problems such as clean water, when we have made great improvements in cell phone technology. By talking through different world views, they were able to identify that the financial investment required to develop a product would then be gained back by selling the invention. However, if the people needing it have no money to pay, than the inventor would be at a loss of money.

I was really happy that we had this conversation as it allowed the students to see why some of the world's problems have not been solved due to issues that they have never made connections with before. The conversation was enjoyable and worth the period that we spent on it for sure and I would do it again. 

Here is the slide show that was used: 

To get ready for their upcoming structures unit, they are doing a homework assignment that will let them build and also collapse different structures. It is called Catastrophe and the developers have done a wonderful job of applying the laws of physics to the designs. My students have already started using the terms tension and compression without having learned it in class. 

The assignment they are working on is:

Next week is the launch of the structures unit and they will be working with another class. Lots of hands on building and exploration to do as we go into the end of the year!

Math: Finding Area
I was able to participate in a Lesson Study done by the Junior School teachers this week which focused on the development of understanding of area. With a focus on conservation and additivity when finding the area of irregular shapes. During the conversation, the idea that students forget these concepts as they begin to learn the formulas of shapes. With this in mind, I wanted to teach the area of a triangle by starting back at the start of understanding area. 

To do this, I told the students that they would be erasing their brains of all past knowledge and we would be progressing together. We talked about how measurements were originally taken by using body parts, but that different sized people would have different sized hands/feet. Then standardized units of measure were created so that everyone knew what was being talked about. We then explored why they were called units squared. For some students they had not thought of this since their younger years, and only now were able to grasp the concept. It was a short review, but important to understand that it is the total number of square units. 

We when looked at the area of a rectangle and saw how it is an array. You have for example, 10 groups of 6 boxes in the rectangle, so we can use that to do it faster. Students they made the connection that this would relate to the base x height formula they had learned. 

Finally we did a paper cutting exploration to show how two triangles make one rectangle. They understood that if we know how to find the area of a rectangle, than cutting up a triangle so that it fits into a rectangle allows us to use our array understanding to find the area. This was then connected with the formula that we then developed together. 

Once all students felt confident with this task, they were put into groups with their own shape that they needed to create a similar slide show showing how to change the shape back into a rectangle and then use this to develop a formula. Groups were arranged on purpose by processing speed so that they could think through the problem together and no one would be left behind. This was because the goal of the lesson was for them to think deeply about how conservation of area can occur. 

Now, they are creating their slide shows and will present to others in small groups next Wednesday. They will have the slides shared as their own "notes" to refer back on for their homework. This will be a good launch for their individual solving of irregular shapes as well. 

Slide show used: 

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