Friday, June 15, 2012

Miniature Moon Landing Classroom Project

The school year is winding down.  My school has a contest at the end of the year to see who can put together the best scene, and I got the year 1969.  Being a math teacher, I had the students figure out how many of a certain item it would take to reach the moon.  Did you know that it is:
  • 238,855 miles
  • 1,261,154,400 feet
  • 15,133,852,800 inches
  • 252,230,880 students
  • 242,141,644,800 quarters
  • 3,026,770,560 SpongeBob Square Pants
  • 867,965 Empire State buildings
  • A pile of dollar bills totaling $3,783,463,200,000
To the moon?  Those calculations, using rates, ratios and proportions, took my students almost a full week, with calculators!  Heaven forbid they use a pencil and basic math facts to reach those numbers!  Then, boring math part over, we got to the fun part: illustrating the astronomical numbers.  Having time to spare (yes, after a week of calculations), we decided to build the Apollo 11 rocket.  Then, the deadline was pushed back, so we added the Eagle (the lunar landing module).  Then, we were told to decorate the doors (my room has two), so one was a newspaper frontpage (July 21, 1969), and the other is of what is supposed to be Kennedy giving his "We choose to go to the Moon" speech, although it looks more like the Elephant man with a hemifacial spasm or Bell's palsy.  And then, I was told to decorate yet another wall, on which we will create the parachutes with the splash down command module attached, landing in the ocean (pictures to come).  My goodness, am I having fun!  It combines so many of my interests: thrifting (I bought a plush astronaut), scavaging (the birdcage turned into a parachute), crafts (there is a lot of cardboard, tracing, painting, and glitter involved), math, and miniatures. 
Moon scene on bottom, artistic renderings
of items stacked to the moon (not to scale)
The Apollo 11 rocket, with
2 astronauts (one atop ladder
in door, other in window).

JFK's famous "We choose to go the
the Moon" speech.  On the right is his
words, coming from his mouth, on
the left is his dream (moon and
 astronaut), coming from his head.

The Eagle, the lunar landing module
So much fun!  Fun projects brings out different aspects in my students that I don't get to see with the big test looming most of the year.  One of my students brought in the drawing underneath the Eagle model in the picture above.  It is a wonderful picture!  And I get to see the correlation between intelligence and common sense.  For example, a high scoring student can figure out how to cover a semicircular parachute shape in five minutes without direction, but when a low student is asked to cut something out, he asks me, "How?".  "Oh, I'd try scissors", I reply, as patiently as I can manage.  "Where are the scissors?", he asks, with a pair literally right under his nose.  "See if you can't look around and find a pair", I respond, much less patiently.  And then there was the child who could not wrap his head around how I came to have a birdcage if I never had a bird.  Sweetie, someone else had a bird and they were throwing out the cage, okay?  Follow up question: "Was it you who had the bird?".  Life skills, people!  How are you going to manage in the world?  In any case, I have a week and a half left before my summer break.  Patience, dear self.  Patience, patience, patience.

The barely legible newspaper
headline! They should have used
 a larger, more impressive font!
My parachute landings.  Whew!


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