Day 48: Mirror Maze & Protractors

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

2013-10-23 10.29.04

An example of the mirror maze. There’s a starting line for a laser beam to be brought in later, a wall obstacle, and a target at the end. This is about half-way through my time working with a small group of kids. I don’t worry them about most labels till the end.

I worked with small groups of kids to practice building a mirror maze, which I’ve told them is on the quiz Thursday. They know this much: they’ll be provided a protractor, paper, and pencil. The objective is to draw mirror placements that will reflect a laser beam from a starting arrow, around an obstacle, and to a finishing target.

In the two years I’ve taught with this particular assignment, it’s amazing how some kids are so freakin’ ingenious with building the maze efficiently.

More amazing to me, however, are the high school freshmen (aged 14 and 15) who cannot measure an angle with a protractor. Most of my time today, in fact, was devoted not to the finer points of accurate measurements but to placing and reading a protractor. After the frustrations in class, I turned to Twitter for advice and my friends delivered:

  • Bridget Dunbar (@BridgetDunbar) told me she used to highlight the bottom ray and put small dot stickers on the protractor plus one on each side next two the scale; the highlighted ray points to the sticker with the scale you’re supposed to read.
  • Jennifer Silverman (@jensilvermath) suggested I cover the second set of angle measures so kids aren’t confused by seeing the supplement to their angle on the protractor.
  • John Stevens (@Jstevens009) found this game to practice protractor use.
  • And John Burk (@occam98) shared a protractor video he made.

Many thanks for the thoughtful advice!

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