Friday, January 28, 2011

Measuring Water Temperature & More (Penguins #4)

We had a blast today! Most of what we did was directly taken from or modified from the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum.

1. We read about how penguins are adapted to survive the cold.

2. Looking at a map, we located places discussed in the article, including various oceans.

3. Then, huge fun...exploring water temperature. We used cards from the curriculum which showed average January ocean temperatures for various locations around the world. I asked my son to consider what temperatures he thought would feel cold, were he to enter the water. We took 3 mugs and filled them with: hot water, cold water, and ice cubes. He then had an empty mug and a thermometer. It was his job to figure out how to get a cup of water to equal each of the different ocean temperatures we'd studied. (We did 60, 50, 45, and 30 degrees F.) This was SO. MUCH. FUN! He had a huge ah-ha moment when he extended the assignment by trying to get the water temperature as cold as he possible could. Stumped, he asked why he couldn't make the temp go under 32F. We had a great little discussion about freezing point. His eyes lit up, totally getting the point.

4. After the experiments, I asked him to write in his travel journal, pretending that he'd taken a dip in the Southern/Antarctic ocean.

5. He then wrote another long piece (so easy to get him to write in this context!) describing how he managed to get each different temperature, reflecting on what was easy and hard about the process.

6. We read some text and a poem about Rockhopper Penguins. My son measured the height of the Rockhopper on our measuring wall, where he could compare how tall the average Rockhopper is to his brother and himself. He then charted the comparative heights on a graph.

We took food cans from the cupboard, determining that they each weighed about 1 lb. My son demonstrated how much an average Rockhopper weighs, using a kitchen scale. He picked up the tray of cans and declared that they're about as heavy as one of our cats, but maybe a bit lighter. He noted the Rockhopper's coloration and found how many eggs they lay.

7. He wrote in his travel journal a second time, describing Rockhopper penguins he saw on his journey.  

8. He then said, "Sometime we should go to the store and find a book that compares all kinds of penguins." Happy to oblige, I referred him to the "penguin table" where I'd collected about 15 library books on the topic. He chose some to read.

9. We ended with several more chapters from Mr. Popper's Penguins.

What a great day!


  1. This is pure genius! I tried measuring boiling water and then the temperature jn the freezer to show how the mercury changed but your experiment is by far better because the child has control of thermometer! We're still in Hawaii and there's African black-footed penuins here. We'll have to continue the penguin studies! I love how you expanded the unit and beyond most people!

  2. @ Joyful...I'd love to take credit, but it's all Bridges, not me! There are some brilliant minds behind this curriculum.

    Enjoy Hawaii! Go see the penguins!

  3. This temperature experiment is brilliant. We have to try it when daughter is a bit older - I would probably do it with Celsius thermometer. I live in US for 15 years and still mentally convert temperature into Celsius.

  4. "still mentally convert temperature into Celsius"

    Wish I did!!!!

  5. My 3 year old discovered that he was taller than a penguin when we did the same activity this week and he was thrilled! He danced around the house singing about how big he was. I love when they can enjoy learning! :)


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