Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wooden Balance Game Pt. I

Let's play a game! Actually, you're welcome to invite your students to join in the fun here as well. Here's what you do:
1. Watch the video below.
2. Check out the specs.
1. Video:

2. Wooden Solids and specs:
 Make estimates of the dimensions.
 What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Good luck! I'll tally your submissions for the week and stack the top configuration.

Balance,
327

1. That's awesome! ;)

2. Bring this on Saturday. There might be a session that if I don't have a game to play with, I might climb the walls.

3. I love your use of technology. What do you use for the tallying?

1. Thanks! Google forms will calculate the tallying for me.

4. So what does the calculation look like here? What does video add? What does it subtract? Certainly video lets more people encounter the premise of this pretty slick little game who might not have otherwise. I think it adds more calculation to the task but it also subtracts experimentation — the arrangement and rearrangement of the pieces. Which is a pretty huge thing to lose, IMO. I'm not sure video comes out ahead here.

1. I hear ya Dan. I'm wondering many of the same things you are. My intention was to have students and teachers create theories before seeing the dimensions of each solid. As for calculations, I'm curious what matters to people. Is it the volume of each solid, density, base area, weight distribution in relationship to the height, intuition, luck, or something else? There's a lot to consider here, but I hope students and teachers talk about at least a fraction of them.
The video adds some perspective to the solids since you can see my hands and compare. I’m not sure the pictures do an equivalent job. I'll admit, this was tricky to stage and capture so I’m not sure I did it complete justice. When you throw these solids in the hands of students or adults, the math is forgotten because fun and intuition take over. You're right, it's a really slick game.
As for subtraction, you raise a good point, experimentation. In the video I stacked a few pieces without the hemisphere, but I purposefully did not stack any on top of the hemisphere at the end. In my mind this allows for some abstract experimentation. I'm trying to keep my audience in mind here too. I'd like this to appeal to some primary grades so stacking a few solids made sense to me. However, if I were to appeal to an older crowd, I wouldn't stack any solids during the video. Is this what you mean by experimentation? Or were you thinking I should have shown more concrete arrangements and rearrangements?
As for video coming out ahead, I think it's necessary. You have to show that wobbly hemisphere. You just have to. How can a picture capture that onerous part of the game? The pictures are decent, but don't give enough perspective. When I showed my students the solids in class without the hemisphere, they thought it was easy. Then I unveiled the hemisphere and the tension went up many notches. I had students in one class making a bracket for a tournament because of all the contagious excitement and suspense.
I'm curious how you'd stage this one. I'm open to working this one out, revising some parts. I believe in this game’s potential, spatial reasoning, and fun factor. Thanks.

5. "As for video coming out ahead, I think it's necessary. You have to show that wobbly hemisphere. You just have to. How can a picture capture that onerous part of the game?"

I've been unclear. I'm not debating video v. photo. I'm debating any multimedia v. the real thing. This is an instance where I think what you gain from multimedia (showing this game to lots of people who'd never heard of it) is outweighed but what's lost — the experimentation, the play, the touchy feely aspect.

1. Thanks for clarifying, Dan. I agree 100%. It's a shame that the experimentation and play is lost. I wish it didn't have to be that way.