Post image for 6 ideas for using syringes in a mathematical way outside

I’ve always used syringes for water play, mark making, as air pumps in technology projects and for having fun in the snow. I’ve always chosen the biggest syringes I could find – 100ml ones.

But this set, a present from a friend, fuelled the mathematical fire within me. Have a close look at the sizes and see what you notice – this is just the sort of thing to ask older primary aged children. Can you see:

  • The sizes of the syringes, as well as increasing in capacity, are mathematically linked.
  • The numbers in the squares allow you to quickly measure a smaller quantity than the total volume of liquid possible. The three biggest syringes (10, 20 & 50ml) are all multiples of the smallest two (2 & 5ml).
  • The capacity of the syringes are all multiples of 3 – 3, 6, 12, 24 and 60ml. Again this allows for lots of quick mental calculations.

The syringes provide further learning opportunities:

 

1. Can you accurately measure the capacity of each syringe?

Show children how to fill the syringes to precisely the correct quantity and how to remove the air bubble.

 

2. Is there a relationship between the capacity of the syringe and the distance you can squirt water?

How could you set up a fair test to measure this?

 

3. Does the capacity of a syringe affect the splat it makes on the ground?

Or is this dependent upon ground surface and inclination and height or angle at which the water is squirted onto the ground?

 

4. What is the longest continuous line you can make with a syringe?

This challenge is surprisingly tricky. Your class will needed to develop skill of using a syringe accurately to create a continuous line. Then there is the task of measuring the length of the line. This is also a good opportunity to practice conversions between metres and centimetres. Be aware that the lines can be surprisingly long, even from a syringe with a small capacity.

 

5. What is the best syringe strategy for a water fight?

For example, if you could choose between having 1 x 60ml syringe owned by one person or having 20 people on your team, all with 3ml syringes, which side is most likely to win? You will have to agree a set of rules for winning the fight and also what behaviours are acceptable or not. Is there a particular combination of syringes for the best chance of wining?

 

6. Finally, it is also worth considering a conversation about the medical uses and purposes of a syringe. A discussion may also be needed about what to do if you find a syringe that has been left as litter on the ground.

Post image for Stick Pic Problems

What do all these stick pictures have in common?

Yes, they are all made from sticks….anything else you notice?

The sticks have been cut to specific lengths? Correct: 10cm, 25cm, 50cm can be seen in all these photos.

When you add up the total length of the sticks used in each photo, they should all equal 3 metres. A clever little problem solving challenge for a class to undertake.

  • If you want to up the level, then encourage children to convert their counting from centimetres to millimetres and metres.
  • It can become a more interesting investigation if children decide to change an aspect of the challenge such as changing the total length of the sticks. How would your class adapt this problem?
  • Cut sticks can be bought from Cosy or Muddy Faces. Better still why not get your class to cut their own during the winter months as a woodland maths challenge.
  • A nifty homework challenge can be to get each child to measure out a length of cardboard. They take this home and have to collect a bundle of x amount of sticks of this length. Some classes at Dyce Primary have rather a fine collection. Remember to provide advice about collecting sticks in an environmentally sustainable way in line with the access laws of your country.

Many thanks to Dyce Primary School children for their work here.

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