Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Matchbox Cars and Measurement

My math group continues to work with concepts of measurement. We had a lot of fun at our Measuring Olympics event last week. This week, for something a bit different and hands-on, I brought in a set of matchbox cars.

Yesterday, pairs of children set up different ramps using blocks and cardboard. First we hypothesized which ramp would work the best - or what set up would allow the cars to go the farthest. Children build different ramps (long and low, long and high, short and low, short and high) and used tape measures to get the results to the closest 1/2 inch (another concept we're working on). This was actually a nice science activity too!

Today, I introduced the concept of scale. Each mathematician got a matchbox car to closely examine. On the underneath, we noticed that there was the name of the car and some numbers that looked like 1:64 or similar. We watched this short video clip to learn that toy car companies measure real cars to make sure the toy cars are nearly identical in scale and proportion.

Then we went outside to measure similar cars using our matchbox models (of course, my shabby little '97 Civic had to stand in for a shiny vintage Jaguar). Sure enough, the children discovered that approximately 64 little cars equals one big car.