Investigating Squares (9/3/14)

Today we started our first unit in Math 8 involving rational numbers and exponential expressions. We started with an investigation activity involving blocks and squares. I gave each pair of students a bowl full of blocks and had them make a T-table with “# of Blocks” on the left and “Square?” on the right. We started with 1 block and they decided that it made a perfect square (which actually was a pretty interesting discussion, sine not all students initially agreed that it made a square). Then I told them to use the blocks and decide which number of blocks could make perfect squares. There were great discussions happening, then we listed 1-50 on the board and looked for patterns. Then I had groups generalize a rule to decide if any given number of blocks would make a square. A couple kids in each class threw out the term “square root” which we briefly discussed and will dive more deeply into tomorrow. Overall, a good day of exploration and a even some “aha” moments as students began realizing that the term square root actually comes from…get this…SQUARES, and not “The Magical Book of Imaginary Math Stuff Ancient People Made Up a Long Time Ago.” 

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