Monday, March 2, 2015

Rubber Bands and Math

Today we mostly finished up our rubber band launching project in math. The entire 4th grade spends two days launching rubber bands at three different angles, collecting the data, finding statistical landmarks, graphing, and then drawing some conclusion.

Thirty nine-year-olds in the hall launching rubber bands -- pure chaos! They love it!

It's a wonderful project that requires the kids to use many of the skills they've learned so far in math. And then they have to decide how they car going to communicate the results of their data through some kind of graph. Sometimes they make choices that are not the best for showing that the important thing is that rubber bands launched at 30 degrees go the farthest, those at 90 degrees go the shortest, and sometimes even go backwards, and 60 degrees are in the middle. But even if they make a less than ideal choice, they learn from seeing all the graphs.

My story today, though, isn't about the graphs, but about the statistical landmarks. One group was puzzling over the mean for one of their sets of data because the mean they had calculated was bigger than the maximum. One of the boys in the group realized they had probably forgotten to divide after adding and he started explaining the process of finding the mean, using easy to understand numbers. He was still enthusiastically explaining as everyone cleaned up and continued explaining as the class walked to science. This is a boy who has been coasting through 4th grade, doing a little homework when he feels like it, but who has great potential in many areas. I was stunned by his enthusiasm and then thankful and delighted.

Highlight of my day!

Launching rubber band rockets


  1. You are a brave woman if you gave a bunch of rubber bands to fourth graders! This sounds like an awesome lesson. I'm glad your kids got into it!
    Not very fancy in 1st

  2. Looks like big fun was had by all! I love when kids engage like this!

  3. OMG - PURE CHAOS and tons of fun! It sounds like this is an engaging activity!

  4. this is such a wonderful story. I love to hear about kids who suddenly get excited about learning and realizing that they know something they didn't think they knew, and they can explain it to others who haven't gotten it yet. You sound like a great teacher.