Saturday, January 15, 2011

Marshmallow and Toothpick Fractal Tetrahedrons - Math is Fun


The girls made use of the last of our toothpicks, and a bag of stale marshmallows, to create three dimensional models of Sierpinski's triangle, following instructions from the Fractal Foundation, in New Mexico.

They started with flat triangles...



...and then built up...





...connecting smaller tetrahedrons...



...into larger ones (click the Fractal Foundation link above, to see step-by-step instructions).



They wanted to keep going, but we ran out of toothpicks, which have now been added to the grocery list.

In the meantime, the younger children are making good use of the new Lego playground.



I got quite a kick out of it, as the girls were building, and G (age 11) announced, "This is fun."

"Of course it's fun," I said. "It's math."

"Math isn't fun," both girls answered in unison.

"But, this is math, and you just said it was fun."

They weren't totally convinced it was math, but even it was, they still thought it was fun.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

14 comments:

Raising a Happy Child said...

Math IS fun when it's taught well. This project is great, and perfect for Lego people :)

Joyful Learner said...

Love the Tetrahedrons! I've never fully understood why people think math isn't fun. Perhaps, this is the beginning of changing that misconception. I always thought history was not fun because of all the memorization of names and dates. I didn't learn to appreciate it until I minored in history in college!

Christy said...

I love your conversation with the girls! Great project.

We always like building with toothpicks and marshmallows. We own the book, The Marshmallow Incident by Judi Barrett and every time the kids see it on the shelf, they want to play with marshmallows. It's a fun read too!

jenny miller said...

We bought mini-marshmallows and toothpicks at the store today for the exact same reason! @Christy, thanks for the book recommendation.
Happy learning.

pebblekeeper said...

Lego Playground. Love it. Both of my boys say math isn't fun, but they work/play with it all the time. . . .

Marta said...

This is great activity. I'm teaching my baby "solids" through flashcards. He is not ready for toothpicks activity yet, but I will keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing!

Marta

Phyllis said...

We have had a lot of fun lessons with toothpicks and marshmallows, but I don't think mine have ever made a playground out of it after. Creative thinking! Our household's attitude about math has changed since James came into our lives. He was born loving math and his enthusiasm is a bit contagious. It has made me seek more hands-on fun math activities to do.

Debbie said...

Just think if we could take the labels such as math and such out of the vocabulary, how much fun the kids would truly have! Yet, I don't think then they would understand fully what they are learning if we didn't have the labels.

Lesley said...

We made some of these about a month ago and it was a blast! A sticky blast!

Anneke said...

My six year old son is going to eat this up!!

Ticia said...

I think it's all in how it's taught and what you're doing. I didn't like math until middle school when I was placed in honors math, and then I thought it was fun.

love2teach2day said...

I'm LOVING your math posts. 'Cause math is FUN! ;) Keep up the awesome teaching!!!! (p.s. I featured some of your penguin entries on my blog)

Kimberly said...

I'm still not convinced math is fun. I'll go as far as saying "certain studies of math are fun". But Algebra is just not fun. Calculus- not fun. But my husband and oldest son enjoy them.
History has gone from 'not-fun' to 'very interesting and enjoyable'. Math, overall, is still stuck in the 'not fun' category.
But it is better with fun activities.
Your kids' project looks fun.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Kimberly - I might agree with you on algebra. I'm working on it though, I'd love to find a way for it to be fun. But, calculus is nothing but fun! I can't wait for the kids to get to it. So many fun mysteries to solve :)