Dogs in the classroom?
At our school, ACS Athens, an international school in Greece, the Dogs in Learning program brings dogs to the classroom on a once a week basis for a half hour period. Besides learning basic dog etiquette, teamwork and responsibility, this program also offers a place where students use their math as a creative tool to tackle problems. Not the chocolate covered broccoli problems of the text books but genuine problems in the real world. In fact dog related issues form a great vehicle for creating just this kind of problem solving context.
Here are a few ideas I have come up with for the 5th grade.
1: Posing the question how much does it take to feed a dog for a year leads to research online and a comparative study of price and quality in relation to breed and age. Weighing out a portion of food, dividing that into the weight of the sack of dog food to figure out how many days a sack will last, then multiplying up to cost out a year’s supply gives a lot of great practice in multiplying and dividing decimals for 5th graders not to mention accurate measurement. Many students who would like to have a dog find this interesting information which they can then share with their parents!
2: The dog question also lends itself to the study of exponential growth- in how many generations will we have enough dogs to fill the classroom if they breed indiscriminately!
3: Let’s make a made to measure cardboard dog house! This one gets us into geometry, measurement and surface area as well as practical construction issues.
4: Dog layette
Imagine you have 100$ to prepare for your new puppy. What will you need to buy, what would be nice to have and what can you afford? This budgeting question gives practice in addition and subtraction of decimals.
5: A pet survey in the classroom gets us into data collection, fractions of a set and ratios.
6: Creating the optimal dog pen for different sizes of dog from a fixed perimeter gives students the chance to explore the relationship between perimeter and area.
That’s what I call mathematical Ped-dog-agy!!!
If you have any ‘bonus’ dog-related math ideas, please share them in a comment!