# Maths and Science in our 6/7 class

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So far this year in Year 6/7 we have been studying positive and negative whole numbers – including factors, multiples and prime numbers. Next we are starting to look at numbers between zero and one or how we express the numbers in between whole numbers. We will be doing a short diagnostic test from the University of Melbourne “Teaching and Learning about Decimals” that compares the size of two different decimal numbers. The site above has many different activities using fractions, decimals and percentages.

In Science we have started with the Safety Rules and Equipment in the laboratory. We have performed some simple experiments, including measuring the rate of heating and cooling water. Now we are studying the states of matter – solids, liquids and gases – and the particle model. We have created our own mini-water cycle and created posters to show evaporation, condensation, precipitation, erosion, transpiration and aquifers.

# Treasure Island – a mapping exercise

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Year 7 maths students are studying maps, scale and bearings over the next couple of weeks. They have created their own map of Treasure Island, showing a clear and accurate compass rose and realistic scale. Next they will write their own directions from the point of disembarking on the island to where the treasure is buried, using distance and true bearings. Students will be assessed using a rubric, created using Rubistar.

# Pizza maths

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This week in Maths we are continuing our study of area, looking at the area of circles. Earlier in the year we measured the diameter and circumference of many different-sized circles and found the relationship between those values. We found that the ratio between the diameter and the circumference of a circle is a little more than 3. Archimedes, the famous Greek mathematician, accurately determined the value of ‘pi’ over 200 BC. We use pi = 3.14 or 22/7 as an estimate for calculations, as the real value is a never-ending (irrational) number. This value can be used to calculate the area of a circle. Students calculated the area of small, medium and large pizzas and then we used the prices of different pizzas from our local restaurant to calculate the value of different sizes and toppings.

# Climate Change and Probability

Today is Blog Action Day 2009, billed as the largest, single,  social event on the web.  This years topic is “Climate Change”, a topic I have keen interest and passionate concern about. I first heard the term ‘global warming’  twenty years ago, as an undergraduate at LaTrobe University. Back then, the research was just beginning and the results weren’t conclusive – scientists are cautious by nature. Now, ‘climate change’ is a term we hear in the media every day and an issue being addressed at every level of government and in most private enterprises.

“New Scientist” has produced an excellent page to help you understand the facts of climate change at: “Instant Expert: Climate Change”.  Since the Earth Summit in 1992 and Kyoto in 1997, many countries have agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, in an attempt to reduce the enhanced greenhouse effect. In 2007 the IPCC announced that global climate change is “very likely” to have a human cause. In 2009, many thousands of scientists around the world agree that an increase in temperature of more than 2 degrees Celcius will have catastrophic effects on agriculture, biodiversity and water resources, as well as increasing the frequency of extreme weather events. The east coast of Australia experienced such an extreme weather event a few weeks ago, when an estimated 140,000 tonnes of soil per hour was collected from central Australia and dumped on the coast and offshore. This dust actually had an ocean-fertilizing effect – adding nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphoros to the ocean that enabled increased phytoplankton growth. It has been estimated that an extra eight million tonnes of CO2 was captured by this phytoplankton. Mother Nature fighting back?

Which of the objects above could you use in a probability experiment to simulate the birth of a boy or girl? How would you calculate the theoretical probability of three girls in a row? Draw a tree diagram to show all the possible combinations of three children.

# Year 7 and 8 Science and Maths – Week 2

This week in Maths we will continue to investigate probability, looking at both theoretical and experimental results and using technology to generate long term random results. We will be doing the Maths 300 activities “Dice Differences” and “Problem Dice”.

In Science, we will finish our Paper Aeroplane experiment and start individual projects. Go to the Science Buddies  site and complete the survey which will help you to identify areas of interest and suggest some projects that may be suitable. We will use the On-Line Science Fair wiki to post our research and share our results. Make sure you sign up as a member (using  your school email address and password) and create a page where you can keep relevant information and links.

In Year 8 Science we have started the Human Body unit with a look at the digestive system. This week we will be doing food testing, so make sure you bring in a small sample of food to test. These are the tests we will be doing:

1. Brown paper or Emulsion test for fats and oils (lipids).
2. Iodine test for Starch
3. Benedict’s solution and heat for glucose (sugar).
4. Copper sulphate (10 drops) and sodium hydroxide (5 drops) for protein.

# Today’s task – Year 7 Maths and Science

Firstly, congratulations for participating in the biological control of bridal creeper using leaf-hoppers, the DPI project we completed last term. The leaf hoppers we bred in class were successfully released at Hawkesdale Apex Park during the last week of term 3. We hope many of them survived the cold and wet weather we had over the September school holidays!

Today we will be looking at two tasks on the computers – (1) continuing our Beetle Game (Maths 300) to learn more about probability and long-range frequencies and (2) entering our paper aeroplane data onto the Google docs. spreadsheet to compare our results with other students.

(1) Go to Maths 300 on the intranet and choose “Beetle Game”. Click on “Make a Beetle” and then play ten games by clickoing on “Auto” and then clicking on the space bar. What do your results suggest? If this was a carnival game, how would you organise the cost and prizes so that you can make some money? Then go to “Make many beetles” and choose how many people you think will play the game at a school fete or carnival. How do you think you should organise the prizes now?

(2) Go to the Google spreadsheet “Paper Aeroplane Flight Distance data” and enter your results from five trials. Calculate the mean, using a calculator and then check using the formula option in the spreadsheet. Compare your results with other students’ – how did your plane go? How can you improve your design to increase your flight distance?

(3) If you have completed the above tasks, write a blog post about one of the three activities – releasing leaf hoppers to control bridal creeper, the “Make a beetle” game or Paper Aeroplane project.

# Sporting Finals

Year 8 and 9 students had the opportunity to learn from one of Australia’s most experienced maths teachers this week. Ian Lowe, from Curriculum Corporation and Maths300, took a class about “Sporting Finals”, designed to explore the structure of the final eight series in the AFL and learn about the underlying mathematics. Students collected and tabulated finals results using a simulation game and then used computer software to see the long run frequencies of each team in the eight being successful.

Thanks to Mr. Quinlan for organising this engaging class for students and valuable professional development for teachers. Maths 300 is a collection of lessons for students of a wide range of ages and abilities, designed to provide relevant and engaging learning opportunities for all.

# “What is pi?”

This week in year 7 maths we are looking at ‘pi’ – we started by drawing and measuring the radius and circumference of lots of circles around the school. We added all our results to a table, with columns for radius, diameter and circumference. Students quickly realized that the circumference of a circle was always a little bit more than three times the diameter of the circle. Next we will read about how Archimedes ‘discovered’ pi  – he determined the value of the ratio between the diameter and circumference very accurately over 200 years BC! We will also do an activity that shows how you can calculate the area of a circle and learn more about the famous mathematical symbol – pi.

# Peer-to-peer teaching and Science in term 3

This incredible photo was taken at Cloudbreak, a Pilbara mine site  – apparently it took more than five hours for the snake to finish off the goanna and the workmen put up signage so it wouldn’t be run over. Looks as though he won’t need another feed in a long while!

Congratulations to all those students who participated in the excursion to Portland Primary School last week to teach Mr Booth’s class about blogging. From all reports, it was a very successful project that will continue at Camperdown College this Wednesday. Mrs Mirtschin has written a more detailed account of the day here.

I will be absent from class on Wednesday 17th, Thursday 18th and Friday 19th next week, when I will be supervising Year 11 students on Work Experience. I expect you to go on with your Environmental Conference preparation or your Animal Research Project during that time.

I will also be planning your maths and science work for next term. So, I would like you to write your questions down in the comments section of this post. What would you like to learn about in maths and science next term? What topics interest you most? Light and Sound? Electricity? Human Body Systems? Forces? Ecology? Plants? Probability? Graphs and data? Space science?