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In an upcoming task with my students, I’m asking them to explore measurement of length as well as mass. I took pictures all along the harvesting of my carrots this year and I have created various explorations involving estimation of lengths of the carrots as well as ultimately calculating how many kilos of carrots we harvested.
For the measurement of the length, first students will compare relative lengths of different carrots and estimate what they believe will be the length of all the carrots lined up in a row.
Eventually they will have the measurement of one of the carrots provided to help them zero in on their estimations. I am providing linking cubes and other measurement aids to help them physically map it out.
Once they have an idea of how long the carrots would be end to end, then they will need to compare the length of that row to the length of one of the walls of the classroom. In this exploration, I am leaving it up to them to decide how to compare this as I actually am curious to see whose thinking land where on the continuum of these comparison types.
My challenge will be to not lead too much, but give just the right nudges to prompt their thinking about measurement to change. Of course the challenge with this task is that not all carrots are the same length, so this task will not have predictable/constant measurements, although they will be able to use their linking blocks as somewhat of a standard measure.
Later we will determine the average weight of a bag of carrots and based on that, as well as the number of bags (conveniently stowed away in milk crates), students should be able to calculate the approximate number of kilos of carrots. Here I am struggling a little bit with how to bring the direct and indirect comparisons into play, so I may actually bring some bags of carrots in with me, but I’m also thinking of substituting other objects that would be about the same weight to help students gain a better idea of what grams, kilograms etc are about. Or experimenting with packing a similarly filled bags into crates to simulate the situation.
If anyone has an idea of how to help the students make the leap, I would welcome any insights you’d like to offer. :).