Measuring up

As everyone walked into the Monday morning SCATS class of Math-ing in Kentucky, a large note was projected onto the wall at the front of the room, “Be ready to share one adventure you had this weekend!”

One by one the students shared their varied successes, bloopers, and excitement from the previous weekend. Teddy M. shared about his paper theatre experience as a tumbleweed with the “Wild West and Wizard of Oz.” The SCATS Olympics conversation seemed to bring out the students’ highly competitive sides, and everyone agreed that a drawer was perhaps the least likely place anyone would look for a student during hide-and-seek. I heard one girl ask, “How did you even get in there?”

As the class began buzzing with excitement, teacher Ashley Wise smiled and said, “Take a deep breath,” and everyone came to their calm space. It was clear, the previous weekend provided many great memories to take home.

Action of the day: using homemade clinometers! These devices are for measuring slopes. With a little ingenuity involving a protractor, tape, string, paper, and a straw, homemade clinometers were easily crafted.

Ms. Wise said the class would be going to the ground level of the building and using the clinometers to measure slopes when looking up to the second and third floors. Reviewing with the class, she asked, “When looking up through the viewer, we are measuring for what?”  The group responded, “An incline!” “And if we were at the top floor viewing down, what are we measuring?” In unison they shouted, “A decline!”

Ms. Wise paired up students up to help hold strings and get the most accurate measurement. The students spread out on the ground level for their observations while using their newly constructed clinometers. Caleb J. and Ethan P. initially found a spot on the third floor to measure and then decided the ceiling was the most dramatic incline in the room to measure.

“You can buy clinometers,” Ms. Wise said. “But making them is much more fun.”