"The Hispaniola Water Shortage" Teacher Support

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The Hispaniola Water Shortage Archived PoW || Student Version

The Hispaniola Water Shortage is no longer the current ESCOT Problem of the Week. The student version allows teachers to use the problem with their students without giving the students access to the archived answers. Teachers can use the link to the archived problem to get ideas about student thinking.

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The Hispaniola Water Shortage problem can be challenging as students attempt to find all the exact amounts of water they can measure using only two measuring containers. The goal is for students to investigate some properties of even and odd numbers, particularly what happens when you add them.

Depending on the students' ability to understand the idea of pouring back and forth to measure, it may be helpful to start first with actual measuring cups, either as a single demonstration or as group work (see below).

If you have something to share with us as you use any of the links or suggestions on this page (something you tried and changed or a new idea), we would love to hear from you. Please email us.

Alignment to the NCTM Standards - Grades 6-8
    Number and Operations
    - develop meaning for integers and represent and compare quantitites with them
    - understand the meaning and effects of arithmetic operations with fractions, decimals, and integers

    Algebra
    - understand patterns, relations, and functions
    - use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships

    Problem Solving
    - solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts

    Communication
    - communicate mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others
    - use the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely

    Connections
    - recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics

Possible Activities:

    Pre-Activity
    (Suggestion: Use two measuring cups, with tape marking the 6-oz. line on one cup and the 10-oz. line on the other.)

    1. Pass out the following materials for each group of four students:
        one 6 unit container
        one 10 unit container
        dried beans or small cubes
        paper to record method

    2. Ask the students how you can measure 8 units when you have only a 6-unit and a 10-unit container.

    Remind students of the various problem solving techniques they can choose from, including:

      Choose the Operation
      Evaluate Information
      Find the Pattern
      Guess and Check
      Make a Table
      Plan and Reason
      Work Backward
      Write an Equation

    Post-Activity
    Ask students to consider three measuring cups. What amounts can be measured using just those three containers? Another possibility is to look at parity in the case of multiplication, or even subtraction and division, instead of addition.


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