Saturday, August 21, 2010

Activity of Reading Instructions

I mentioned in the previous post that one of my goals is to encourage my kids to parse instructions and to translate them into mechanical procedures or a diagram. Here is a good (fun) example from Neufeld Math, which Ms. Cookie had linked to; I think I'll use it when I introduce compass constructions. The idea is that I'll let the group struggle with it for 10 or so minutes and not help them out much. (I'll force them to go back to the written directions.) Then, we'll go over the correct results; I'll let a kid present the solution if they are able to parse all the instructions correctly.

In the space provided, draw a circle and then carry out these steps:

  • IMPORTANT: Keep the same radius used to draw the original circle, for this entire exercise.

  • Select a point on the circle’s circumference. Label it A.

  • Center your compass on A. Use the compass to draw an arc that passes through the center of the original circle and intersects the circumference in two places. Label those points B and C.

  • Use the new intersection point C as your center to draw a second arc that passes through the edges and the center of the original circle.

  • Continue around the original circle in clockwise to construct more arcs that pass through the original circle's center and its edges, in order to complete the pattern and to return to point C.

  • Erase all the marks outside of the original circle, leaving only the arcs that are inside. At this point, you should have what looks like a flower with 6 petals inside a circle.

  • Shade in every second region with your pencil.

  • Can you figure out how to construct a regular hexagon that is inscribed in this circle?

What I really like about this activity (besides the rigors of reading and parsing instructions) is that it introduces, in a natural way, some important mathematical terms. Instead of me lecturing on the board, I can simply write or project the pertinent definitions onto the board for the kids to refer to as they delve right into the activity, and I can merely circulate and clarify the math vocabulary (arc, inscribed, circumference, regular hexagon) if they still have questions.


Addendum to the graphs powerpoint: a more complicated (and INTERESTING) graph about pay disparity and gender. I always think this issue is so fascinating, because like my friend observed once, we can't really fairly compare the pay between men and women until women begin to periodically re-negotiate their pay the way many of their male counterparts do. I know that I had never re-negogiated my pay while I worked as an engineer, even though at least one of my guy friends did/does it every 6 months. (He actually goes out and interviews with other companies every 6 months to re-assess his market value. Then, he takes their offers back to his HR Department and requests a raise even when it's not annual review time. That's so smart / aggressive.)

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how I feel about doing interviews just for the sake of finding out my market value, particularly on a frequent basis. It just sounds like a large investment of time on the part of the companies and people doing the interviewing. But I guess there's lots of ways to ask for a raise without doing all that homework, so it doesn't change your original point.