This is the day the children have been working towards for a month. They researched the plight of the little brown bat, wrote research papers, interviewed experts, studied bat house plans, measured, divided, graphed, determined area, sanded, and persuaded community members to hang our 15 houses. Today, they finally build!
As a warm-up, I remind the students to re-measure the pre-cut pieces of the bat house in order to be sure they are assembling the bat house correctly. They will use measuring tapes and measure to the nearest 1/4 inch, following the schematics we have been working with. I also task them to decide, as a team, how they will share the work.
When they are done discussing their team plan, I assign them to a parent volunteer that will oversee the activity. However, the students do all of the work. That's important!
By the way, I did this project with our entire third grade population - 60 students!
As children worked, they re-measured using their tape measures and schematics, divided the number of nails (28) into equal interval placements, counted the number of hits it took them to hammer nails in and compared with their teammates, problem solved when pieces were not placed in the box correctly and made new nail placements, and concentrated on their efforts. As you watch this rather long (9 minutes) video, you will see evidence of true math and a wonderful performance task.
This is a demanding task, requiring perseverance and concentration. Some of the obstacles the students ran into was realizing the nail holes were not placed correctly. When this happened, they needed to re-measure the length of the board, divide by the number of nails, and adjust their plan. Some students wanted to "eyeball" nail placement and then place the tape measure next to the plotted nails to adjust, while others divided using the various division strategies.
There is music to this, but it was unable to load. Several of my students took the song "Ya Had A Bad Day" by Daniel Powter and changed the words to create a new song "Bat Day", which was full of facts about bats!
You will also notice in the video that the students are wearing Home Depot aprons. In order to create a community partnership in this event, Home Depot sent 5 of its staff to help out during the building. They also brought everyone aprons!
To celebrate, the students have ice cream sandwiches, write thank you cards to Home Depot on "bat paper" and sign their bat houses.