What started as a place value activity, has transpired into calculating our average running speed on the oval during mathematics today. How you may ask?
During week 1 we focused on place value. To try and make this task as engaging as possible we asked the students to research 10 countries of interest, and to record the population and size (area) of each country. By doing this, students were able to write down large numbers, ranging from a hundred thousand to billions. Some students started to make connections and question why some larger (size) countries (like Australia) had a smaller population, compared to smaller countries like Vietnam, which despite the smaller size had a far larger population than Australia. These observations provoked thought amongst the classroom surrounding this issue, and this lead to an inquiry on population density.
As a class we scaffolded how we could calculate population density (population ÷ size). From this learning students were able to articulate that Australia had approximately 3.1 people per square kilometre, compared to Vietnam, which had an approximate population density of 299 people per square kilometre. We then asked the students to come up with some reasons to why they think this may be the case – push and pull factors (apart of the HASS curriculum).
Following these discussions, students queried:
“What other formulas or equations do we use in every day life?”
It was from this that we started discussing speed, and in particular kilometres per hour (km/h). The children wanted to learn about this and how they could calculate it.
Disclaimer – Calculating speed is not something that is apart of the year 6 /7 curriculum, rather something that would be found in the year 9/10 Physics classroom. But, as teachers we knew that this was too good of a learning opportunity to miss.
It was from here that we started to unpack the elements of how to calculate speed. Students began with some worded problems where they had to apply the formula: distance (km) ÷ time (h) = speed (km/h).
Today students were given the provocation:
“How can we calculate our average speed (km/h) by only using the resources in the classroom?”
Students worked in pairs and were successful in understanding that to do this they would need to measure a distance (for example, 100m) and time how long it took them to run that distance. What was most impressive was those students that knew in order to do this that they would need to convert metres to kilometres, and seconds to hours to then calculate km/h.
Following this, we went outside to the oval where students measured distance and ran and timed themselves running the distance that they had decided. From this, students were able to calculate their average speed (km/h). See the pictures below of our class in action: