- Topic: Symmetry: Book: Seeing Symmetry by L. Leedy.
- Topics: Graphs, Drawing, Geometrical Drawing: I made some fairly simple line drawings on graph paper, each on a separate small sheet of paper. I gave each kid a sheet of graph paper, and they needed to (exactly) copy the drawing. Once they finished, they would get a new one to copy.
- Topic: Programming: We used our usual parent programming set-up, with two new commands, “Pick Up” and “Drop” (instruction cards here and here). The task was command the robot to transfer 3 books from the island in our kitchen to the counter top (so you needed to pick up the book, turn around, go two steps, put down, etc.).
- Topic: Sets: We discussed whether there were more boys or more people in the world.
- Topics: Probability, Numbers: We have some “percentile dice” — a set of two ten-sided dice, one of which has 10/20/30/… and the other with 1/2/3/… If you roll both, you get a number from 0 to 99. We played three variants of the same game. First, each kid wrote down any number, and then we rolled the dice. If your number was higher, you won. After we played this several times, we switched to the same game, but trying to get lower. Finally, we played a variant where you chose a single number, and then we rolled 5 times. You won if there was at least one time your number was higher and at least one time your number was lower.
How Did It Go?
All 5 kids were there this week.
This book explained linear and rotational symmetry. The kids were pretty good at drawing lines of symmetry on an object by the end of the book. One of the kids didn’t like the book and wanted to move on to the next activity.
The kids had greatly varying degrees of success on this task. It was not easy for any of them. One common issue was following the gridlines. Some kids got the hang of this, but even they sometimes just stopped following the gridlines; while other kids had more trouble. Many of the kids’ first instinct was to free-hand copy the graph. Diagonals were a big challenge; some kids drew curves instead of diagonal lines, they had more trouble counting the lengths of the other lines, etc. Our son got pretty frustrated when he made mistakes. All of the kids did complete at least one successful drawing; many of them finished several, some of them very nice.
As usual with parent programming, some of the kids got distracted some of the time, since it’s a group activity with only one output. But all of them participated at least some. In the end, they had a program that successfully moved two of the three books. As expected, it was GREAT whenever the robot dropped the book on the floor — so much so that one of the kids started trying to sabotage the program so it would keep falling on the floor (they did know how to successfully sabotage, at least…). I let them add instructions at “run time” for a while, but then had them start over and check whether the instructions they had were correct (not surprisingly, they weren’t, because not all of the verbal instructions to the robot were faithfully recorded). All in all this was reasonably successful, and in particular no one tried to make a nonsense program on the side, which was a common problem with the older kids’ circle.
Boys vs People
As opposed to the square vs. quadrilateral, this was easy for them, they had no doubt that there were more people (“boys and girls are both people”). I asked whether there were more boys or girls in the world, only one kid had a thought about this and said there were the same. I asked about insects vs. people and they said more people.
First we practiced reading the percentile dice. Three of the kids could do it fairly well, the other two couldn’t. One of the three often swapped the tens and ones. Most, but not all, of the kids could reliably answer questions like “is 71 higher or lower than 19”. Next we played the game where you wanted your number to be higher. The initial numbers were 10, 40, 100000, 1000, and 101. 10 and 40 lost. At this point, we started rotating who was doing the rolling, so each kid got a turn, and I guessed as well (foolishly). In the next game, 10 switched to 20, the others switched to at least 100 (including at least one number > 1 million, which that kid thought was 1000), and I guessed 1. The final round, the 20 may have switched to 40, I can’t remember; I guessed 0. The kids noticed that I lost, but they didn’t think my guess was hilarious — which suggests they haven’t fully grasped this game yet. Then we switched to the smaller game. Everyone chose 1 or 2, and stayed there (except me, I always chose big numbers). Finally, I explained the higher/lower game. One of the kids was very concerned and didn’t know what to pick. Another kid tried to get me to let them choose two numbers (I said no). The chosen numbers were all big, the smallest somewhere around 100; and they all lost. The next round, two of the kids stayed with really big numbers, the others switched to 19, 31, and 50; those three won. The final game, the two kids still stayed with big numbers, and the others switched to 2, 10, 11 — everyone lost. I realized partway through that it’s a great help if you have tokens to give out every time someone is higher/lower. That way it’s really easy to keep track of what everyone has gotten so far. Clearly some of the kids realized you want something that has some numbers below and some above, but not all of them, and the ones who did still weren’t choosing numbers in the middle all the time.