Engaging students: Dilations

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Candace Clary. Her topic, from Geometry: identifying dilations.

green lineHow could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Dilations are types of transformation. One activity that I could create for my students is a matching game. I can create cards with index cards, or sheets of paper that have been cut up, that have pictures on them. Each one will be labeled and the students must classify them as dilations, why they are considered dilations, and how they were dilated. As a follow up to this activity, I could assign a topic to create their own city, or small town. They would be required to draw out their town, as well as model it using common crafts. After they do this, they will need to be able to dilate the buildings, and other such things, to make a life size city. They will not have to make the city with a model, but instead, they will need to make a blue print using their model in mind. On this blue print, they will need to inform me of the size of the dilations.

green lineHow can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

Dilations can be used in many different subjects. Dilations can be used to find sides of a triangle when learning about the triangle congruence theorems. These can be useful in algebra when finding side lengths of figures. This may not happen very often, but it is displayed in algebra. Another place that it will help, although it may not be math, it will help in math classes for architectural students, as well as help people in construction. Many science classes require science projects that work and simulate something real. Dilations can be used when making these projects because you can’t make a real river, but you can structure something that is a smaller figure to the real thing, same thing as a volcano. With architecture, dilations can help with making blue prints and can help in building these blue prints with dilations in mind. With construction, those are blue prints too. I’m not saying in order to build something you must know how to dilate something, but it will help tremendously.


green lineHow has this topic appeared in pop culture?

To get the students engaged in the topic, I could bring up the Disney channel movie ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids.’ This will bring up a discussion with the kids when I ask them what the dad did with his shrink ray. Some ideas that may come up will be that he made them smaller, and then at the end of the movie he made then bigger, back to normal. But in the people were still the same people, they didn’t change, only the size did. At least I hope that is what happens in the discussion. I could then instruct the students into pretending that they had a shrink ray and ‘shrink’ some shapes, as well as other students. This activity, and their answers will be recorded on a chart that they will turn in at the end of class. They, themselves, can decide what size they want to shrink to, but they have to remember to bring the student back to normal at the end of class. I think this activity will be fun for the kids because they will never forget what a dilation is, since they have been ‘dilated’.

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