In celebration of Pi Day, I got my students practicing measurement, multiplication of decimals, and circumference....all using bubbles!
Now, let me preface this by saying that learning the circumference of a circle isn't actually a 5th grade standard in California. That doesn't appear until 6th grade. BUT, multiplying decimals is...SO we went with it.
The first thing I did was introduce the concept of circumference being the same basic idea as perimeter. Only it applies to a circle instead of a polygon. We discussed the formula, the idea of Pi, and how it was used in the formula. After doing a few samples, we headed outside.
Using the circles painted on the floor of our playground, I walked the diameter of one of the bigger circles, foot in front of foot. It was *about* 17 Mrs. Moorman feet long. Then, we did some mental math to figure out that the entire circumference of the circle, if I was correct in my explanation, should be *about* 51 Mrs. Moorman feet long. I walked around and, what do you know, it took me 51 steps (foot in front of foot) to get around! The kids were amazed....and convinced.
I let them walk the diameter and circumference of the circles around the yard as well, and when it all came out to be *about* 3 times the diameter, the idea was cemented for them and we headed back inside.
partner match up sheets...boy those things have come in handy!) was given a plate covered in tinfoil, two straws, a ruler, and bubble solution. They were instructed to blow bubbles into the solution to create circles. They sure got a kick out of that!
Once the bubble burst, it left a ring that was visible for a few seconds. The students then used their rulers (they made the choice to use cm or in) to measure the diameter of the circle. With that information in hand, they calculated the circumference of the bubble circle and started all again.
I didn't give the students an recording sheet (mostly because our copy machine is broken) so they chose to organize their information any way they saw fit. Here were a few examples.
But, in case you would like a page to give the students (I know that sometimes just giving them an organizer helps to get them more on task), here is one for you.
We did this on Pi Day, but you can really do it any time throughout the year. When you are working on multiplying decimals, introducing diameter, discussing circles and their place in geometry, or just want a fun math activity...this will fit right in!