Math & Science for 8-13 year olds, at Diwali!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My friend Jane, a math wizard, asked me if I could suggest a Diwali-based activity for her 6th-7th grade Math students something challenging but also fun. What a great question! I am glad she did, because it got me thinking – since I have an 11 year old too!

 

In India, we had a few weeks of Diwali break. Books and studies were the farthest from our mind. We were thinking about food, fireworks and fun with family. But, those were simpler times, when I learned algebra in Junior High! Children today are learning these concepts earlier and there are more ways to apply math concepts to everyday activities.

 

Diwali can set a very interesting premise for various fun yet educational activities for many age-groups. Here are some ideas.

 

For the younger ones, here is a simple math activity that illustrates division:

 

  • If 1 ladoo weighs 20 grams, how many ladoo’s can be made from 300 grams of the dough? (Although, this example cracks me up: I recall my uncle used this logic once: if I eat all the ladoo dough, how many ladoos’ can you make?)

For 3rd and 4th graders, here is another one about weights, measures and absorption:

 

  • Weigh an uncooked treat – such as a raw karanji or a raw chakali

  • Weigh it again after it has fried, to estimate how much oil is absorbed.

 

 

This is one for households that make karanji using a mold. It is a complex exercise (4th- 7th grade) about area, volume v/s weight.

 

  • Calculate the area of the circle of the mold

  • Estimate the volume of the thin cylinder that is created when rolling out individual circles assuming each circle is about 3 mm thick. 

  • Calculate the volume of the main ball of dough.

  • Estimate how many karanji covers can be made from it.

 

To illustrate the concept of weight, volume and evaporation:

 

  • Use air-drying clay to make diya’s or lamps (shallow saucer typed shapes with a spout). 

  • First weigh each ball of clay that will be used to make a diya. 

  • Shape it and weigh it while it is still wet, and see how much clay is lost to your palms. 

  • Allow it to air dry and then weigh it again. What is the difference?

  • Now, soak the dry clay saucer or diya in a measured / finite quantity of water overnight and weigh the diya again the next day.

  • Is the difference in weight between the wet diya and the finished diya the same the second time around?

 

For Jane’s students, and our other 6th-7th graders, I recommend creating a ‘plotting point’s worksheet’ using a Maharashtrian Rangoli pattern. 

 

The Maharashtrian Rangoli uses a simple grid to create a base framework. An outline is first drawn to connect various points and the closed spaces are then filled with powdered sand.

 

This math exercise touches upon multiple concepts:

  • Create the patterned worksheet – primary exercise (or give them printed sheets).

  • Estimate the line lengths (perimeter of each shape) for each closed shape.

  • Estimate the area of closed spaces (by adding fractions of space and doing area calculations)

  • If each closed shape was covered using 1/8th inch of rangoli sand, how much rangoli sand (volume) would you need. This end of this exercise can be a little tricky, because one would have to estimate the volume of each space first, and then calculate the total amount of rangoli.

  • Complex Rangoli patterns are created on this dot grid using circles, curves and ellipses. If your student is advanced enough to do the math for these areas, go for it. 

 

Except for the Rangoli exercise, these are just some educational exercises, where kids can eat their homework after they have finished the calculations! Doesn’t that sound more exciting?

 

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  • If you have a math or science exercise you do with your child, email me at: currycravings@gmail.com, and I will add it to the list of resources on this blog. 

 

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AUTHOR

Nandita Godbole

Once a botanist & landscape architect. Now a personal chef & author, an artist, graphic designer, blogger & closeted poet. Loves freshly brewed chai, the crisp salty ocean breeze, watching monsoon rains & walking barefoot through cold mountain streams. Believes in the strength, positivity of the human spirit. Is spiritual but not a fanatic. Mom of one. Two, if she counts her husband.

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