Hands-on math lesson speaks volumes

the Eskimo structure build by studentsPieter B. Coeymans teachers turned up the volume for their fifth-graders with hands-on lessons that brought together math, science and engineering.

Students used snap cubes – colorful blocks that snap together – to create three-dimensional objects or prisms. They then had to find the volume of their structures.

“It began to bring the concept of volume to another level, rather than just length times width times height,” teacher Tony Linter said. “It allowed the students to build, feel, and visualize the volume formula.”

The exercise started with students constructing objects with as few as nine snap cubes. The creations needed to be structurally sound before they could calculate the volume. Once the structures’ volumes were calculated, the formations were combined into one large mega-structure, whose volume was calculated by adding up the original calculations.

Each mega-structure was given a catchy name by the class then viewed PBC teachers and staff who voted on which they liked best: “Powersville” by Mr. Powers’ class; “Eskimo Factory” by Mrs. Manning’s class; or “Taub Topia” by Ms. Taub’s class.

“Eskimo Factory” (top) was crowned champion, but Manning believed the students were the real winners.

“It was a fun, hands-on project in which students were immersed in the concept of volume and cubic units,” Manning said.