Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vitruvian Man and First Week Activity

PG-Clothed Vitruvian Man for Middle School

One of my goals in my middle-school math classes is to cross pollinate with lots of common knowledge. The younger grades in our K-12 charter school use the Core Knowledge Sequence of books edited by E.D. Hirsh Jr, which provides a basis for common language our multi-cultural students can share.  For example, if I say "We're in the red", students may have no context for the expression.  

I like to use "The Vitruvian Man" as a first week activity for my 8th grade students.  I provide some background information about Leonardo Da Vinci.  (Most of the students know him as a Ninja Turtle.) I was so glad to see the exhibition of Da Vinci's drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts earlier this summer. 

While looking at the Vitruvian Man, we talk about the proportions of the human figure, and the hypothesis that our height and wingspan are close to equivalent.  Note:  use rich vocabulary and use a small pre-lesson to introduce.  Assign students to add the vocab to the Word Wall.  The students then measure each others wingspans and heights, and they each record the results for the whole room in the table provided.  It has 5 columns; name, height I, wingspan I, height II, wingspan II. We use the columns II later in the year to re-measure and look at growth throughout the room... great lesson on percent of change!  

(Measure across the back!!!  Girls will quickly realize why.)  I have prepped by creating two measurement stations in the room with meter sticks (or yard sticks) taped to the wall, or door jam.  When I use yard sticks, I tape the stick one yard from the floor. 

We use this data periodically throughout the year, but finish this activity by finding mean, median, any mode and range.  The collected data is a great basis for later lessons on scatter plots, percent of change, data representation in box and whisker plots and other graphs.  Have fun with it!

BTW, when you pull the data out later, you'll need to know the idiom "Good things come in small packages" because there will always be one student who hasn't grown even a smidge.

Thanks for checking out my new Math blog.  I look forward to your comments.

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