Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bubble Geometry

What kid doesn't like blowing bubbles? What teacher doesn't love it too?  Why? Because there is so much math embedded in this seemingly fun-only activity.  We all know kids learn more when they're having fun, so throw in this secret geometry lesson while your kids are blowing their hearts out!!

The object, of course, is to blow the biggest bubble.  Let your kids experiment with different shaped bubble-makers (homemade or store bought).  They can use wire coat hangers, string, or the wands that come with the bubble solution.  Here's the math part.  Once the bubbles pop, use the bubble ring that's left on the sidewalk and have a quick talk with your kids about the diameter, radius and circumference.  (See the definitions below for your refresher course.)  Get the rulers out and have your kids measure each of the three for each bubble they blow.  Have them make their own data sheets to keep the records straight. 

If you have multiple kids, you can make it a competition or have them work together in a team effort (which life lesson will you choose today?); if you have one child, see if he can "beat" his record with each successive bubble.  What improvements can your kids add to increase the size of their bubbles?

Your kids' math teachers will love you and your kids will be having so much fun, they'll do all the math you want just to keep making the biggest bubble! It's most definitely a win-win!

DIAMETER:    any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle  (remember, the line segment has to start and end on the circle AND PASS THROUGH THE CENTER POINT)

RADIUS:  any line segment from its center or axis of symmetry to its perimeter  (think of this like a spoke on a wheel; the line segment has to have one end point on the center of the circle and one endpoint on the circle itself)

CIRCUMFERENCE: the perimeter (or distance) around the circle; you calculate this by (C=πd) OR (C=2*π*r)     (π = 3.1415)

Other ways you can embed math in this lesson:
- have your kids measure in centimeters and inches
- have your kids find the difference between each bubble's measurements
- have your kids research WHY bubbles are always spherical no matter what shape the wand is

Happy blowing!


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