Math Props

Throughout the years I have collected many unique objects that I use to amp up the excitement and curiosity for the tasks that we do in my classroom. Students see these objects when they first walk into my room in August and wonder why I would have a giant gummy bear or five bags of Doritos. Seeing these objects on a daily basis keeps the anticipation levels high. Students are always curious as to when we will use these objects and for what purposes.

Here are just a few examples of the objects I have in my classroom along with the activities that go with each task. What

Super Bear

objects could you have in your room to help engage students further with the tasks you are presenting?

Super Bear (by Dan Meyer)

The videos are great, but having the actual bear makes this more real for the students. Many students have never seen a gummy bear this size, and to see this in real life engages students instantly.

Doritos Roulette (By Kyle Pearce)

The students love this task because we actually eat the chips and collect data. The best question I ask with this task is if the front of the picture on the bag is accurate or not. If not, what should the picture look like?

Money Duck (By Dan Meyer)

With an assist from me…

The first five minutes we investigate this duck, students think they have found a get rich quick scheme. Once I share the numbers I found from the company (in the second link I shared), they become a little more realistic. So far we have only gotten ones in the ducks, which is expected, but I am waiting for the day we get the 50!

Expected Value Spinner (By Dan Meyer)

We set up this task by ending class for 20 straight days spinning this spinner once each day. Students select a space on the spinner that they must keep for all 20 spins. The object is to have the most points after 20 spins. You only get points if the spinner lands on the space you originally expected. There is so much discussion to be had here. A few things I have the students do are change the values in the spaces but not the size of the spaces to end up with an equal expected value for each space, and then keeping the original point values the same but changing the size of each space to have an equal expected value.

Growth Lizard (By ???)

I don’t remember where I found this, but the idea of this task is to find a creative way to figure out if this lizard really grows 600% or even anywhere close to the claim on the box. A lot of it depends on how long you leave it in water, which could be another math task altogether. I emptied out one of my trash cans in my room and filled it with water. I let the lizard sit in the water for a week before we did this task. After a week, we did the task and as you would expect, it grew nowhere near 600%, but after I left it in for a month, it was enormous, and close to 600%. This task is great because the lizard itself isn’t a perfect 3D shape, so students do have to be a little creative with how they figure this out.


                                                — Dr. Clayton M. Edwards