A group of Washington Middle School fifth-grade math students braved the cold to release 25 balloons as part of their 100th day of school celebration incorporating math, social studies and science.
"We try to find ways to constantly integrate math into real world scenarios," said Washington Middle School fifth- and sixth-grade math specialist Patty Lefford. "Our current focus in math is fractions, decimals, percents in both fifth and sixth grade. I was looking for a way to extend the practice of these concepts with our base 10 system of numbers. It just so happens that the 100th day of school falls in February. I decided to incorporate the 100 days into my math curriculum."
Mrs. Lefford chose to do a "100 Balloon Project" with her fifth- and sixth-grade classes. She worked with the School Home Community Program to create tags explaining that the students were asking people who found the balloons to send the tag back to Washington Middle School so the students could see how far the balloons traveled.
Washington fifth-grade students release balloons as part of a 100th-day math project.
Before the launch, Mrs. Lefford incorporated science by talking about weather conditions and how the wind and other factors might affect which direction the balloons would go. Students were able to relate their studies of molecules and states of matter as they explored why the helium gas allows the balloons to float. For the actual balloon launch, she only used 25 balloons, as they are a factor of 100. She tied in social studies by creating a map where students can put pushpins in the destination when the balloon tags come back. Students will estimate the distance the balloons might travel by using the "scale" on the map. When the tags come back, students will then compute the distance traveled and keep a running rate/percentages of tags returned. Fifth-grade students also completed a 100 M&Ms activity that explored sorting, graphing, comparing and ordering fractions for the set of M&Ms, with sixth-graders calculating fractions, decimals, percents and probability of a smaller sample of them.
"This type of math project is a big 'wow' factor for students. It keeps them interested and engaged in difficult concepts, " said Mrs. Lefford. "We are learning important math concepts by incorporating other subjects in a real-world setting. It really does help students to remember these concepts when they can reference back to a project like this one."
Other 100-day activities at Washington Middle School included sixth-graders in Deb Szwejbka's class creating 100 Valentine's Day cards for nursing home residents and Students in Jill Smeraldo's and Sara Joly's classes collecting 100 nouns and verbs to use in their writing, while Priscilla Menzies' and Amy Anderson's students created 100 perfect sentences modeling positive attitudes and goals.