Every time I see Dan Meyer, I can't wait to get back into the classroom and try something new! His theory of having students build a solution to a vague question is problem solving at its best. Isn't this what the real world is like? In the work force, we are encountered with these types of problems several times... a colleague needs to leave early, and we work together to find out a solution as to who will cover her class... a new design to a part is needed on the assembly line because the bolts are just not lining up.... the scenarios are endless! What better way can we prepare students for the future than by giving them skills to not only solve problems, but learn to work with others to find a solution.,

My colleagues and I are beginning work on a Meyer-ized problem. Originally, step-by-step directions were given to determine the strength of a 50-piece bundle of spaghetti. As Dan Meyer suggests, we need to take out those step-by-step directions, create a short question, add a bit of technology to the mix, and set the kids free! At our next after school meeting, we'll begin the quest to find a video clip that will show the strength of those 50 pieces of spaghetti. So far, we've found a number of "bridges" on YouTube (one spaghetti bridge ended up holding about 14 science textbooks-WOW!), but nothing with a strict bundle of spaghetti. This is technically a physics problem, but we're trying to steer it more towards a scatter plot, linear function-type problem.

After our next after school meeting, I'll update! Happy Weekend!

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Comment by Sean Karsten on January 4, 2011 at 3:17pm
I'm interested to see how it goes.  I'd like to do the bungee jump activity one of these years.
Comment by Beverly George on January 2, 2011 at 6:55pm
Ahhh.... I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.  MythBusters is full of content that I don't give a rip about either, but they somehow find a way to make a 30-60 minute show out of it!  :)  In addition, I've got a Barbie Bungee Jump planned this week that gets the kids very excited, but I'm not really sure they really care how many rubber bands it takes to give Barbie a great thrill ride off of the school balcony.  I'll let you know how it all turns out with the spaghetti strength test when I try it in the classroom.
Comment by Sean Karsten on December 16, 2010 at 7:01am

Valid point.  Not all explorations need concrete context.


At a fundamental level, we've all filled something up with water and have wondered how long will it take.  I don't know if I've ever wondered how strong my spaghetti was before I tossed it in the pot.

Comment by Beverly George on December 15, 2010 at 8:37pm

True... but did they really need to know how long it takes to fill up the water tank?

Comment by Sean Karsten on December 15, 2010 at 12:41pm

The only thing I would be careful of is context here.  Unless the kids are going to be having some sort of competition, how many will really care about the strength of a bundle of spaghetti?  They may end up solving a problem, but is it a problem that needs to be solved?

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