Thursday, 19 July 2012

Best End of Term Lesson Ever.

I've been helping out with Year 5 taster days lately, which I've enjoyed a lot, and wanted to take one of the activities into my Year 7 class. The idea is that you make this:

It pretty much filled the room from floor to ceiling.

I've had a great year with 7Y1. They've performed above themselves, with many achieving above the median and (despite them being the weaker of our two set 1s in year 7) achieving the highest scores we've had for quite a while. I wanted to repay them for their patience (at one time their trainee teacher wasn't always there and for about a month they didn't know which teacher they would be having - which makes 31 of us! - and at another they had continuous supply for three weeks whilst I worked with year 11 in extra sessions) and reward them for being consistently awesome. As I told them before they left, I've enjoyed their classes so much this year and I'm a little sad that I won't teach them next year.

The activity is centred around tetrahedrons.

Build one and ask: Who knows what this shape is? What's its special name?

One of the class came in to work with Year 5 and demonstrated building one for the class, going around and helping others as we worked.

This is what you'll need:
(Six dowel rods and a pile of elastic bands)

Every joint must be banded tightly - so have loads of bands available as many will be snapped - so that the structure is as strong as possible.

Step 1: Get three rods and put them side by side. Put an elastic band around one end, tightly, so that your rods look like this:

Step 2: Twist two of the rods around, leaving two at a right angle to the other one. You're going to put two more alongside the one by itself, tying as you did in Step 1 at the other end.

Step 3: Open up as shown in the following photograph. It will be like having two pairs of chopsticks joined together.

Step 4: Pick one from each set of 'chopsticks' and pair it up with one from the other.

Step 5: Put elastic bands around where these rods cross - this is where you'll start to see the tetrahedron taking shape.

Step 6: This is where you add the final edge to your tetrahedron. Lay the final dowel rod across both ends and secure this rod in place using elastic bands.

Step 7: When you've attached the last rod, you're done.

This gives you a 'small' tetrahedron. To make one the size that we did you'll need 64 - I set the class the challenge of two each. Some struggled and made one, others were awesome and made 5!

Taking four 'smalls' you can make a 'medium'. Three on the base and one on the top. Band them in place (which can be quite tricky!) and make sure they're strong by lifting the top - if it's done well if won't alter in shape!

Taking four 'mediums' and joining together in the same fashion will give you a large - this is where the strength of the bands is so important.

Four of these will give you an 'extra large' - the one in the original picture at the top. It stands so tall and is so large that it took about 10 of us to lift it and hold it in place (on their toes) while I secured it in place.

Once finished it's very impressive - all the kids took pictures on their phones (I figured that relaxing the 'phones are to be turned off and at the bottom of your bags whilst in school' rule was OK 5 minutes from the end of the year) and a handful of staff found their way in, very impressed by the work that the kids had put in.

Such a brilliant end of term activity. Will do the same with other classes next year! :)

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