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I'M MELTING
by Storie Santschi
University of Idaho

ITV SERIES CHALLENGE OF THE UNKNOWN; Estimation: Am I Close?

GRADES 4 - 5

OVERVIEW

Students will estimate the time it takes for an ice cube to melt completely, watch a video on estimation, and complete cross-curricular and extension activities. The real world example used to clarify the use of the ice cubes will be buying ice cream from a store and getting it home in time before it melts. Lesson goals include using estimation skills to solve a problem situation, making estimations, checking for answers, and making evaluations of how our estimations turned out. The activities used will be chosen from the Challenge of the Unknown series and the experiment will be using ice cubes.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Students will:

  • Identify what an estimation is, how to use it, and when to use it.
  • Make estimations to solve an unknown problem.
  • Create graphs/charts of their estimations.
  • View a video to help enforce the concept of estimation.
  • Build knowledge of avalanches through a website, literature, and video.

MATERIALS

  • Ice Cubes (2 per student)
  • Styrofoam Cup (1 per student)
  • Clear Plastic Cup (1 per student)
  • Measuring Device (Cylinders, 1 per student
  • Avalanche Video (1 for the class)
  • Large Graph Paper (1 for the class
  • Clocks, stopwatches (some measure of time, 1 per student)
  • Computers set up with the websites (5 available to the class)
  • Avalanche, by Stephen P. Kramer (1 for the class)

PREVIEWING ACTIVITIES

Begin with the questions, what is estimation? Why is it important to use? When do we use it? Real world application is about ice cream melting in a car before it gets from the store to home. How long will it stay frozen in a car? Do you have time to go to another store before going home when you have ice cream in the car? Etc.

Teacher will use activities to get students thinking about estimation. After these activities, introduce the ice cube activity.

Students will make their estimations for how long it will take an ice cube to melt in each cup. The teacher will chart the information on the classroom graph using stickers or have students graph at their desks. Pass out the cups, ice cubes, and stop watches and have students label cups with their names and write down their estimations on how long it will take the ice cubes to melt.

Students should put cups around the classroom in assorted places to determine if placement will affect the rate the ice cubes will melt. This activity will lead into discussion on the subject of the video we will watch in the classroom.

 

FOCUS FOR VIEWING

To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, I will pose a list of estimation questions and listening questions Before the video is shown on a worksheet that students must answer before and while watching the video.


VIEWING ACTIVITIES

BEGIN the video at start of tape. PAUSE when the Hazard Forecaster is first talking. Check for student estimations.

RESUME video and PAUSE as the avalanche begins coming down the mountain. Check for the student estimations and find out how close (or far off) student guesses were.

RESUME the video and PAUSE when the man is discussing the layers of the snow pack. Here we will answer another estimation question.

ESTIMATIONS AND QUESTIONS FOR VIEWING THE VIDEO

  • How often does avalanche danger occur? *Estimation *Video Answer
  • How fast does an avalanche travel? *Estimation *Video Answer
  • How much force does an avalanche travel with? *Estimation *Video Answer
  • What materials does the Hazard Forecaster use for data collection?
  • What are some of the steps the Hazard Forecaster takes to predict avalanches?
  • How many skiers does it take to trigger an avalanche on weakened snow packs? *Estimation *Video Answer
  • What can a good estimate do in terms of the problem and the answer?

EXTENSIONS

Technology
Build Your Own Avalanche
Schweitzer Snow Report

Language Arts
Avalanche
Writing activities: newspaper, magazine,

Social Studies
Research avalanche sites and map them out

Art
Can create diorama, posters, other creations of avalanches

 

 

POST VIEWING ACTIVITIES

Discuss how close our estimates were and the importance of using estimation in the jobs shown on the video.

After watching the video, we will move to our computers and visit the following website:

Build Your Own Avalanche
www.discovery.com/exp/avalanche
/build.html

At this site, the students can manipulate various conditions to predict which changes will cause an avalanche. Here, they are also applying their technology skills as well as their recently learned estimation skills. Have students demonstrate to the teacher how they created an avalanche, what conditions they had to manipulate, and why they tried what they did. This would be an appropriate way for the students to use a hands-on strategy and to discover how an avalanche works.

With this knowledge of estimation, The teacher can assess what they have learned at this point of time in the lesson. It is also during the post viewing time that we will check in on our melting ice cubes. The students will check and record the starting and stopping times of their ice cubes (without manipulating the melting time). When we have all recorded our data, we will chart the information on our classroom graph and discuss the results. We will also discuss why some estimation strategies worked better than others, the predictions on which cup would melt the cube faster, etc.

ACTION PLAN

We will have a few books on avalanches available in the classroom throughout this lesson. One book in particular, Avalanche by Stephen P. Kramer is especially helpful in defining and explaining avalanches to students of this age group. The students will also have time to look up the snow reports of local ski mountains.

One example is the website for Schweitzer Mt. at:
http://www.schweitzer.com/

Here they can find out if there are avalanche warnings and e-mail the site to find out the mountain's chances of avalanches.

Our classroom will also invite an expert in this field to discuss the nature of avalanches and how often they occur in particular areas. If the expert is not available, students can write to him/her asking questions. Another idea students might try is creating a newspaper or magazine about avalanches. They could do headline stories, snow reports, define avalanches, write questions, etc.

 

 


For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!


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