A continuation of the giant 3D space I created in the room. After we discussed what it looks like to define things in 3D space, I assigned a long construction project for them. The goal was to create a smaller version of a 3D coordinate space using straws and electrical tape. Once the space was defined, there was a set of vectors that had to be mounted inside. The vectors were to be labeled with their components (given) and their magnitude (not given). I mentioned it would be a good idea to size their vector arrows (made of smaller straws) appropriately based on magnitude. Some groups did this, some did not.

To test the validity of this project, I hacked together a prototype and kept track of how long it took.

Day 98

It was a little wobbly but held up well enough and took about 45 minutes. It takes 54 straws and a decent amount of tape to craft it. So I drew up an instruction template to put on the tables (Illustrator is my new friend).

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An eternal flaw of mine it seems is to craft direction sheets like this and then never force the issue of having to use them. Most of the steps on the paper were given orally anyway. Though they did need the vectors on there in order to create the arrows. Action shots of construction:

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A great way to spend a block day. From initial instruction to hanging it from the ceiling took almost the entire hour and a half. One class got into a bit of a competition to see who could have the main body of the cube complete first. There was enough time that even groups moving slowly were able to get everything done. Makes a neat exercise into the realm of 3D coordinate plotting, as most of them have never seen it before and describing the effect of "into the paper" and "out of the paper" is a bit tough to grasp. The end products were very good, far better than I expected. Hanging them from the ceiling at the end brought back an old school elementary vibe. Many groups took pictures of their work of their own accord. Pretty sure someone in the afternoon class said "oh, THIS is what was all over Facebook today."


A little light on material. A few party poopers sort of sat there and twiddled their thumbs. A few people were unwilling to divide responsibility to said thumb twiddlers. A lot of kids were involved in the initial cube construction but tuned out a bit when it came time to insert the actual vectors. In the future I might require that a companion problem set be completed alongside this.

Even though it was a lot of time to spend on a simple concept, I think it was worth it. Quote of the day: "this is like art math class, I like this a lot better!"

Day 101

No idea how long these will stay together. My prototype started wilting heavily after 3 days, though the kids were a bit more liberal with the tape. A few vector arrows have fallen off here and there and a few cubes are stressed unevenly from the way they were tied. Overall, this was fun.

AuthorJonathan Claydon