In 4th grade math, we are exploring the concept of volume. Without revealing the formula, students tried to determine the volume ( in cubic centimeters) of many objects around the room, including one of the students.

Each partner pair was responsible for using the scientific method to create a hypothesis, experiment, determine results and conclusion while exploring the concept of volume. I saw marbles, counting bears, and  marker caps sitting in graduated cylinders and being measured. A couple of math partners began using the “formula” without knowing that was what they were doing.

I brought one of my Barbie dolls to school to demonstrate how to measure a person’s volume. Then they applied the method to one of the students.

Measuring the volume of a body.
Measuring the volume of a body.

 

Measuring volume through displacement.
Measuring volume through displacement.

 

Students worked in pairs exploring volume.
Students worked together exploring volume.

It was the marker caps that stumped us. It wasn’t until we filled it with clay that we felt we could measure the volume- otherwise it just filled up with water and floated on the top. The students knew there was something wrong with their data when they drew their best fit line for the empty marker tops.  When 5 of us worked together, we figured out how to fix the problem. What a great example of learning from “wrong” results.

Here three examples of the students’ presentations of our math volume experiments showing how they applied the scientific method: