Monday, May 25, 2015

World War II Math

Desk, Chair, Man, Sitting, UprightSince this is Memorial Day, I thought I would share the details of the math assignments I created for a cross curricular unit three or four years ago.  To introduce the unit, we had the students assemble in the gym first thing in the morning, right after breakfast.  There were several desks in the gym and the tech guy set the air raid siren off.

Memorial, Uss Arizona, Pearl HarborThe students got quiet fast and then started laughing because the teachers were going under the desk, just like students would have in World War II.  The kids laughed watching the wrestling coach struggle to fit under a desk.

We introduced the World War II unit and shared with the students what they would be doing in each class. The history class would cover the war, the English class would read the appropriate novel and in Math, I had three one week topics planned that focused on World War II.

Submarine, Us Navy, Uss HammerheadThe first week focused on the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.  Students calculated how long it took the aircraft carriers to travel to get close enough to launch the fighters that bombed Pearl Harbor.  They had to figure out how fast the fighters were traveling to cover the distance.  In addition, they figured out how close the submarines got that launched the mini subs around the same time.  They calculated the approximate volume of the mini subs, how long it took them to get to pearl harbor, etc.

Hot Air Balloon, Balloon, Colorful, WindThe second week focused on Japanese balloons that traveled to the United States and killed a few people in Oregon.  The students calculated how much paper each balloon required and the amount of paper required for all the balloons.  They also researched the distance between Japan and four places the balloons landed, the average speed of the jet stream to calculate how long the balloons took to get to each location.  In addition, they had to figure out the total amount of sand required and other materials used to create the balloons.

Boat, Fishing, Tropic, OceanThe final week focused on Dunkirk.  I had the students read the account, calculate how many people were being moved every hour, figure out how many boats they had and the average number of people per boat.  They understood that some boats carried more people and some carried fewer.  Since the village is on a river, not too far from the coast, I had students figure out how many boats were owned by people in the village, the approximate number each boat could carry if squished and where they would have to go to equal the distance as the people did back in World War II.  Their final calculations required them to figure out how long it would take them to evacuate the same number of people if they could work 24 hours a day.  They had to include the time for the return trip so they knew how long it would take for a full round trip.

Silhouettes, Man, Woman, Dance, DancersThe unit finished with a dance held in the cafeteria.  We dug up some 40's music.  One of the teachers knew how to do that type of dancing and held dance lessons right after school.  We dressed the cafeteria up a bit so it sort of resembled a U.S.O. canteen and had fun.  Just before the end of the day, the dance contest was held and there was a small cash prize for the winners who turned out to be two guys, one with a broken arm in a cast, who decided to do it together as a lark.

Although this is a technology blog, I thought I would share something different.  To add more technology to the above unit, I would provide a list of websites for students to find the information they need to do the calculations.  This activity was done my first year there back in 2006 when there was much less technology available.

Final Note:  Thank you to everyone who has served to keep this country free.