While at my most recent conference in Grapevine, Texas, the last day of sessions was clearly filled with the “less popular” topics. I had an afternoon scheduled with “Problem-Solving with Chess” talks and two sessions with NASA Engineers focusing on incorporating projects (think bridges and rockets, I imagine) into your classroom. As part of my future plans, I will be teaching a course at my school’s Engineering, Math, and Science Institute next summer and was hoping to get some great hands-on engineering projects for these students to design, build, and test. The last day of the conference was going to be my big score.
Or so I thought.
This is not really the point of my post, however. The point of my post is that, at the last minute, the NASA engineers all backed out. They canceled their sessions and I was left looking like a confused kid in a new school on the first day of class, wandering around aimlessly and just wanting to go home. But I ended up in a room where “Playing with Dough” was the topic at hand, and Geometry was the subject under assault by the childhood molding device.
In the spirit of open-mindedness, I stayed. And low and behold, it was my favorite talk of the conference! The speaker, Marsha Scott of the University of Texas at Austin, really knows her way around Play-Doh. She covered elementary ideas such as defining a segment versus a line, as well as more complex topics such as area of parallelograms and circles – all using Play-Doh.
As part of my Geometry curriculum overhaul, I decided to incorporate this magical dough into my classroom on a fairly regular basis and, being the go-getter that I am, emailed Marsha to see if she wouldn’t mind sending me any files that she had regarding her lessons. And while she had warned us that she did not have them typed up (they were once on floppy disks, but had since been lost in a series of moves), she did, however, send me these two files:
They are scanned images of her once-typed files, which I plan on re-typing and sending back her way (old-school bartering?). Anyway, for my small collection of readers, feel free to send these along. I’m planning on using them in my Honors Geometry course at my fairly-prestigious private school, so I imagine they would work in any Geometry course setting. Plus, let’s by honest, Play-Doh and hands-on learning is pretty fun.
Here’s to hoping the students don’t sculpt penises out of their Play-Doh on the first day…