After our most recent after-school meeting, my colleagues and I decided to move ahead with a linear function project that we are going to "Meyer-ize". Our plan is to present the following:
"Will a box of spaghetti (minus the box) support the weight of a textbook?"
The students questions should then be:
How much does the textbook weigh?
How many noodles are you using (are in a box)?
How much weight will one noodle support?
I need to convey a huge thanks to Kristen, a fellow teacher and Algebra for All member, for the great ideas! From here, our group is planning on using some YouTube videos of spaghetti bridges as an intro. We found one such video where approximately 14 THICK textbooks were stacked on top of a spaghetti bridge before it finally collapsed. They were fun to watch and interesting, and I'm sure it will "hook" the class. We just need to explain that we aren't building bridges: just using the spaghetti in a linear fashion. A great jump to integrating content would be to follow up this lesson in the physics classroom (I certainly need to talk to our science department). Ahhhh..... the rich conversations that could follow regarding the strength of a structure as opposed to a straight-forward strength check.
We've set up our observations. Our Algebra II teacher will try this one out first (thanks again, Kristen, for using this lesson as a post-holiday break review lesson), and then we can modify and tweak before the rest of our group tries it with Algebra I students. Finally, we'll have the lesson ready to share with others at the face-to-face meetings.
I'll keep you posted as to how well the lesson works! Hope you all have an excellent holiday break!