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McMurdo Station
Pathways Project:
Finding the Best Insulation

Content Strand:
Algebra

Teacher:
Christine Fairless

School:
Bernard White MS
Union City, CA
Grade 8

Project Director:
Jennifer Knudson

30 minutes

Finding the Best Insulation: The Pathways curriculum presents students with design problems from the world of work and guides students in learning mathematics while they create and analyze solutions. In this lesson, students roleplay architects, designing a research lab for Antarctica. After learning enough about the frozen south to inform their design, students work in small groups to first draft a design, and then to decide on the best level of insulation for the walls of their building. Students use software to generate data about levels of insulation and their effects on heating and building costs. Graphing becomes a focus as students record this data in charts to support arguments that they share with the class. Students follow up with an investigation for roof insulation and draw up a final report.


Mathematics in Context Project:
V-Patterns; Beams; Hair & Nails

Content Strand:
Algebra

Teacher:
Joe Dauray
Grade 6;
Cheryl Anderson
Grade 7;
Mike Comella
Grade 8

Project Director:
Meg Meyer

40 minutes

V-Patterns, Beams, Hair & Nails: This video lesson shows an informal preformal formal progression of algebraic thinking from grade 6 to grade 8. Three middle school teachers work together to make math accessible and understandable to students at all levels, one of the major goals of this curriculum. In the grade six lesson, "V-Patterns," students are introduced to basic algebraic thinking by analysing the flight pattern of geese. In grade seven, students explore beams used at a construction site to discover patterns and express these patterns with formulas. Finally, in grade eight, children represent hair growth using three different representations: linear equations, tables and graphs. Throughout, students are discovering relationships and making generalizations using algebraic thinking.