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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Maker Math: Prism Exploration

Proud of her triangular prism.
A quick review of solid figures for an upcoming systemwide math test, led us to today's exploration: creating prism nets and ultimately prisms. Students worked with multiple sizes of graph paper and card stock to reach from "floor to ceiling" as they figured out how to make a number of different prisms.

Throughout the exploration there was both triumph and defeat. Some were not ready for this open task and needed redirection, others started with confidence only to find that their net didn't result in the prism they expected, and still more labored on until they met the basic requirement of making a cube with graph paper to a more advanced levels of prisms with triangular prisms,  trapezoidal prisms, octagonal prisms, and hexagonal prisms.

It didn't work the first time.
Yes it was a messy exploration as students constructed with paper, scissors, tape, and colored markers/pencils. Further it was difficult to stretch myself to encourage and coach forward, yet fortunately students helped each other.

There was a lot of computation involved too as students figured out the number of sides, vertices, edges, face names, face area, face perimeter, and ultimately the surface area of the figure. The many questions made me realize that while we had studied this with 2D drawings and papers, the 3D exploration was truly making students think more.

We'll put these 3D figures away for a while, and move towards fractions to join the other classes. Thanks to Jo Boaler's research my math class represents more problem solving, maker math--the kind of math that students enjoy.

"We figured it out."

Graph paper helps.

A hexagonal prism just like a "hat box."