Students have been working hard in the garden during our first unit where we’re incorporating measurement through hands-on garden measuring. The students had the task of dividing up the garden evenly between our three grade 4 classes.
They’ve learned about measuring and practiced using a variety of measuring tools. They’ve been dividing and adding on with decimals and figuring out how to scale a drawing.
Their conversations last week about scale were amazing. In groups, they got down to the task of putting their measurements on their garden blueprints. Everyone realized they couldn’t actually draw the 15 meter garden space so they talked in groups about how to best do this. They naturally came together with calculators and ideas, converting centimeters to meters and then dividing everything so that it would fit.
One group worked on guessing numbers to divide their garden length by so it would fit on the paper and then guessed again when it didn’t work. Another group started thinking about what a meter would represent, trying different numbers until they finally came to the idea that 1 m could represent 2 centimeters.
Another group suddenly had the “Aha” that our model blueprints from the other class weren’t drawn to scale because the garden wasn’t a nice square but a long rectangle. Everyone ran to the window to observe the garden again to confirm that yes, their blueprint should look long and skinny.
Blueprints are done, colored and ready for voting. It’s been an amazing exercise in mathematical thinking and problem solving. They’ve had to sort out fairly dividing the garden, even when realizing there was a tree and water spigot taking over some area in one part of the garden. They’ve had to collaborate, observe, measure, accurately calculate and even start to figure out decimals and what .3 of a meter looks like.