Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bio-Cube & Famous Mathematicians

Here's a great activity that has taken my classroom by storm. It's called the "Bio-Cube" and my students are sooo thrilled to be researching famous mathematicians from throughout history, reading their biographies, and preparing reports on them. They are acting like I've just been passing out tickets to Kings Dominion or free pony rides! Why? Because the Bio-Cube is a cool, fun, and unique kind of report.

Here's the deal. First, you need a biography. We are using stories from Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer. These are chatty anecdotes that include some of the world's famous mathematical discoveries. I introduced the project by reading the chapter about Thales of Miletus. I demonstrated how pyramids cast a shadow using a 3-D Geometric Solid. I also demonstrated how salt dissolves in water using a plain dish of table salt and pouring water into it from a pitcher, waiting a minute, and then pouring the water from the dish back into the pitcher and showing how much of the salt has dissolved.

Today, I showed my students the Bio-Cube Planning Page (which you can download as a pdf here) and we reviewed the story, filling in the 6 key facts about Thales. I then showed them how you transfer your notes from the planning sheet to each of the six squares on the cube template (download a cube template). This planning sheet helps make notetaking more manageable, by telling students six key facts to research, and keeps the report from becoming overwhelming. After writing the information on my cube, I cut it out and glued the flaps to assemble my report.

My students were FASCINATED and can't wait for their mathematicians to be assigned to them! The authors of this book also wrote a second one. The top Amazon review for volume 1lists every chapter for both volumes and what mathematician is covered -- it's very helpful!

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