In order to solve this problem, students were given a few pieces of background information and worked in small groups to formulate the specific calculations they’d need to solve to answer the question.
One of the two grade 6 teachers, Erin Couillard, has just completed a second portion of the Boreal Forest problem this time answering the question: Does the Boreal Forest in Alberta produce enough oxygen to be the lungs of Alberta?
Next these points were given to students. In Google Earth the students were able to plot these points and then use the ruler tool to determine the different lengths around the perimeter of the Boreal forest. While most students used Google Earth, a few chose to use paper maps and their scales.
As students began to work through the area calculations, it was interesting to see the different ways students solved the problems. After breaking the entire forest into its component shapes, students began to wrestle with how to determine the most accurate area for the shapes.
In this video you’ll see students working through the problem and explaining some of their mathematical thinking. You’ll also see how Google Earth can be embedded into mathematical problems:
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21167692 w=580&h=326]
For the assessment component, students were asked to create a short podcast explaining their solutions. This was another change from part one of the project. Students had also been asked to create podcast explanations for part 1, but they were often too long and unrefined. To improve the podcasts, Erin worked with her students to co-create some criteria for an effective podcast, then had her students review their old ones and make suggestions for improvement. There was a noticeable improvement in the second round of podcasts.
You can view one for the podcasts here:
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21173452 w=580&h=326]