While investigating the mystery data, my students needed to make conversions between the inches to feet.Fortunately, I had some students who were able to explain this process quite fluently and after repeated use of this during the series of Mystery Data, other students were able to refer to examples in our room to help them convert. I allowed the students the chance to use encyclopedias and fact cards to search for possible solutions to the mysteries (these listed heights & lengths in feet). The first few mystery datas used lower numbers and it was easier for the students to make theories as to what the data could be.
Student Sheet 7, Looking at Mystery Data, had numbers in the thousands. This is in inches! We discussed what we knew these living things could not be, and then we decided that we should convert them to feet to make our job a little easier. The first step that someone suggested was to make an estimate. They rounded the lowest number to an easy number to work with, and then they thought about how many 12s it would take get to that number. We repeated this process with the largest number. During this the students used some great multiplication strategies to get them to their final estimate. They came up with a range based on the estimates, and they used this to help them come up with some ideas on what these things could possibly be. I was very impressed with their ability to problem solve their way through this difficult set of data, while keeping track of which concepts would apply during which process. We found that it was sufficient for our purposes to use an estimate. I was very happy at the results and they had an easier time making predictions as to the group of living things that were represented. Wonderful stuff that motivates all of us!