Sunday, November 25, 2012

When does a rock stop being a rock?

When does a pebble stop being a pebble and become a stone?
When does a stone stop being a stone and become a rock?
When does a rock stop being a rock and become a boulder?

I ask my wife these three questions too frequently. She's had enough of my philosophizing. So maybe you can help me out here? Are the answers too subjective? Is there an objective, definitive, agreed upon set of answers to these questions? Are the answers determined by weight? size? volume? mass? density? ootsies? (a la Christopher Danielson)

I'm thinking bigger picture here: How do we bring this type of thinking or wondering to our students more often? When dealing with measurement, how do we get our kids to know the correct (or most logical) way to measure quantifiable items without telling them? Would asking these types of questions help encourage our students to be better problem solvers or be better at applying the right terminology?

So many questions... here's more:
Living in the USA, our customary units system of measurements seems counterproductive with inches, feet, yards, fathoms, miles, ounces, cups, pints, quarts, gallons, barrels, etc. Terminology can be difficult enough for students and to throw all these different measurements at kids (nay, humans) can only seem daunting. When should we use feet to measure something instead of inches or yards? I envy the metric system and, well, let's leave it at that. These measurement questions become even more relevant as I dive into estimation with my students and as I update each week.

I haven't posted in a while and feel like I need to ease back into my blogosophy (blogging philosophy?). I'm not sure I just eased back into it. What do you think here?