Friday, 4 March 2016

How are mass and weight different?

Our Unit of Inquiry central idea we are exploring is:

         Scientific knowledge is always expanding and impacting our lives.

This is a wonderful unit to authentically connect maths. As a connecting enquiry throughout our unit we are going to find out:

To lead in with our enquiry, we are beginning with exploring the measurement of mass since it has a very strong connection with science.  After we have completed our mass unit, I plan to open up the question to the children to see what other strand we should explore in maths that also has a strong connection with science.  Planning the maths year out, I've deliberately chosen not to explore time, temperature, volume, positive and negative numbers

Today's enquiry also directly linked with our measuring mass central idea we are exploring:

   Converting units and using decimals helps us to make sense of the 
   measurement of mass.

We began by skim reading and then selecting a website article that explained the differences between mass and weight.  Whilst reading the children in groups recorded notes of the key points:

Each group partner then had 45 seconds each to explain their understandings of mass and weight.  The challenge was that we couldn't repeat what others had already explained.  This strategy helps ensure each student is really listening to their partners and also helps them to expand on their peers' ideas which we are encouraged to do in all of our discussions.

We then shared our understandings altogether and recorded and discussed these:

It generated some interesting debates and challenging theories we had about mass and weight.

Some of our wonderings of how our body's weight might change included:

To gain a deeper understanding about gravity and its impact on weight and to also link how scientific knowledge changes, we watched the following YouTube.  We paused every few minutes and did a talk n turn with partners about what the video makes us think about.  Then we would share our thoughts as a whole class. 

Such amazing and deep discussions about mass and weight were generated from this: the mass of a black hole's gravitational force, the mass of our Sun's impact on our planet, the mass of the Earth's impact on our Moon and we even got into discussing complex scientific theories about the big bang theory and multiple universes all related to mass. 

We then extended our new understandings by applying mass and weight to find out how much we would weigh on the different planets in our Solar System:

To find out how our weight changes on different planets due to the differing gravitational pulls, we measured our mass on bathroom scales and multiplied our mass by these decimals:

A few of us were a bit unsure how to multiply decimals so those children were invited to our rug and we looked at how we do that together.

There was a lot of excited amazement about how much or how little they would weigh on the different planets.  Some questioned whether we should be using kg or Newtons which we had just learnt from the reading is another unit of measurement for mass.  

We then made posters of our discoveries as a means of consolidating our new knowledge about the difference between mass and weight. Whilst making them, a lot of interesting discussions took place about mass, our Solar System and some wanted to know what their body's weight would be on the Sun so they found a website that could calculate it for them (student's taking their thinking further- loveit!)

In our concluding discussion we thought:

° Why do we use the word weight when really we are talking about mass?

° Are there other units of measurement for mass like newtons that we don't know about yet?

° Maths is a tool for science but its also a science itself.

° So, when we weigh veggies at the supermarket, really it's the Earth's gravitational pull that is giving it weight, but the veggies themselves have their own mass too according to the amount of matter they have. 

° Mass controls EVERYTHING in the entire universe!!!

It will be interesting I think to see how much of this new understanding will translate and be used as we continue exploring our unit of measuring mass.

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