The Math Forum: 1996 
Summer Institute - sum96

July 15-19, 1996 - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

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Polaroid Activity

We stopped work around four o'clock on Monday for a shared activity led by Ruth Carver. The author of this activity is Dianne Olix of Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio, whose workshop Ruth attended at the NCTM 1996 Annual Conference in San Diego, California in April, 1996.

Ruth broke us up into 5 groups, and explained that we'd be going on a scavenger hunt. Each group would get a Polaroid camera loaded with enough film for 10 pictures and a list of geometric items to find outside, and we'd have to finish in half an hour.

There were sixteen categories, and we could submit no more than one picture per category. Within each category, there were items worth 1 point, 2 points, and 3 points, and the score would double if we could find the items occurring in nature, rather than being man-made.

My group was delighted with our first find - the veins on a plant growing in the courtyard were rays that bisected complementary angles (6 points). We spent a lot of time trying to find other items that would be as good, and and just made it back in time. We thought we'd done pretty well with 28 points, but another group had 42.

Then Ruth gave each group a piece of posterboard, a glue stick, and an extensive list of geometry terms. Each group would get a point for every word it could use in describing its pictures (only the first use counted). We made up some ground here, finding 80 words, like bisector, obtuse, quadrilateral, etc. Unfortunately for our competitive aspirations, another group managed to use 125 words, and so we came in second overall.

See also our online photo essay about this activity.

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Math Forum * * * * 15 July 1996