Bullock Field Trip: Austin HS

Lauren SiegelField Trips, Making Math, Museum4 Comments

We had fun welcoming back Ms. Mardi Nott along with a new group of students from Austin High School. Their field trip consisted of touring the museum, including the La Belle exhibit, and spending time with MathHappens to learn about how navigation relates to mathematics.

We had two groups of about 30 students, each for an hour. The students split up into crews at four tables, which were our “ships” for the day. Students had to move their ships as a team and go to four different stations to learn new concepts. But first, they had to know more about what it was like to navigate a ship way back when we didn’t have GPS.

Students adjust to “carrying” their “ships.”

Intro Activity: 

Students had to lift and carry their “ships.” Then, they had to feel what it was like to navigate a ship. Everyone closed their eyes except the captain and moved around, following the captain’s lead. Finally, as an even more accurate simulation, the captains had to keep their eyes closed and open them for a short while every few seconds. This reflected how a ship’s crew didn’t know where they were unless they were constantly monitoring their latitude and estimating their longitude, which involved the use of mathematical tools.

The four stations:

1) Triangulation – Distance from Shore. Measure angle to shore, follow course (line on floor for 5 seconds), then measure the new angle. Use angles, known speed of boat, and Law of Sines to calculate distance to shore.
2) Longitude and Latitude. Brief theatrical demonstration with shadow puppets followed by verbal explanation – We count 24 hours in a day, longitude is 360 degrees around the earth. How many degrees of longitude in an hour?
3) Forts and Food. Build the best fort you can build in 5 minutes (using lincoln logs) and throw cannon balls to win dinner (using a bin to throw balls in to receive stuffed animals.)  Team picture by the fort or with animal.
4) Make a Navigation Tool.  Assemble (with screws and bolts) a parallel ruler, which is a navigation tool used even today on maps to translate a course direction to a compass rose to get an accurate heading.
We had a great time and so did the students! Thanks to Ms. Mardi for supporting and participating in our math field trips and thanks to the Bullock for collaborating with us.


4 Comments on “Bullock Field Trip: Austin HS”

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