Dam Building and Sweet Eating: the New Math?

Real life math. I still feel like we are not that great at taking the opportunities to incorporate math into our daily lives. It’s just so much easier to weave in the other disciplines. Or at least it is for my numerically challenged brain.
For example, yesterday Dev took the girls over to a rocky area on the beach where he used to play as a child and explained to them how he and his brother used to dam the area to collect water from the spring coming down the cliff. Naturally, our oldest daughter took up the challenge, and started to create a small dam. She worked for a long time, and eventually had a nice ankle-depth pool. As it filled more, it threatened to break, so she decided to build some walls further out and prepare to release the water from the smaller dam. That was when the interest of the other two was peaked and they joined in. Well, we all did really. There were several harrowing moments and full-on emergencies where there was actual breakage, and it took a group effort to shore it up. At one point, our middle daughter pointed out that we needed to fix one of the walls on a wide part of the pool instead of trying to stop the water in a narrow channel.
Now, clearly this is hugely educational. She realized (pretty much at the same time I did, to be honest) that the water in the narrow channel exerted more pressure than that in the wider pool, so it made more sense to work on that one. So through combinations of sand, stones, and pebbles, the dam was repaired.
Here’s my problem. Is that enough? Do we need to revisit this and explain the physics behind it? If it even is physics. Or is the actual experience all that is required?
I’m not sure about this. Kind of a similar experience with a pick ‘n mix at a sweet shop today. They were allowed to buy 100 grams of sweets each. They were able to weigh as they went along as many times as they wanted. So, one ended up with 130g, one with 110g, and the last one, who weighed several times, and ended up going back for more even at 95g, ended up with 105g. Later on, they were trying to figure out what fraction of their sweets they had eaten, so we got out the scales and weighed them etc. etc. But still, shouldn’t that have gone further? It’s ok for the youngest to just find the difference, but what about the opportunities for fractions and decimals for the older two? It just doesn’t feel like enough somehow.
Good thing I’m not the math teacher for this Road School…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Dam Building and Sweet Eating: the New Math?

  1. So what did the ‘math teacher’ say when you asked him these questions? Even if you don’t take it further now, they have real life experiences to draw on and reflect on when the time is right or they get back to school in the class….the memories of their learning and the experiences had will carry them a long, long way in understanding.

  2. Donna

    Education is so much more than pen and paper. Keep encouraging them to be wide eyed and amazed at what they see and do, and their love of learning will never let them done. Don’t forget to enjoy!

    The beach looks wonderful! Donna

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