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Learning Links a Hit at Oak Ridge

Learning Links

While most of Oak Ridge’s students are on their way home on a recent Thursday afternoon, a small group of second graders in Michelle Kjeldsen’s class is taking measurements and doing calculations.

They are part of a six-week Learning Links program that focuses on active learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses.

On this day, these high-level learners are using straws to launch paper rockets and using a tape measure to calculate the distance in inches and computing the average distance of three flights.

They’re figuring out the difference between the distance they “predicted” and the “actual” distance. They use addition, subtraction and division to get their answers.

In previous weeks they used Playdoh, pennies and tape to build strong bases for their rocket launchers. They Skyped their designs, completed projects and results to experts at the Indiana Space Center.

Students use trial and error to complete their projects and collaborate in groups to discuss their results and changes. They help each other take measurements after the paper rockets are launched and they discuss with each other angles and ways of improving the flight distance.

Mahmoud Shaban brings the straw to his mouth and blows. The first flight measures 43 inches. The second flight measures 40 inches and the last flight travels 50 inches.

With his measurements, Mahmoud sits at his desk and begins to calculate. He adds the three numbers to get to 133 inches. He then uses division to compute the average of the three flights.

Using the multiplication tables, Mahmoud figures out the average by seeing how many times three goes into 13 and then 13 a second time before coming to the answer of 44.1.

Patryk Pawelec is next. He blows into the straw and the paper rocket travels 46 inches. His next two launches register 31 and 29 inches, respectively. With that information, Patryk sits at his table and begins the computation.

Using the same process as Mahmoud, Patryk figures that the average of his three launches is 35.1 inches.

A look of accomplishment flashes across the faces of both boys.

“This is a lot of fun,” Patryk said. “I really like building things and doing math is fun.”

Learning Links