The fifth grade students at Paul Revere Elementary enjoy hands-on math and science activities. When the other fifth grade teacher and I plan these subjects we try to be creative. We have taken them outside to explore the land around the school, but the reality of the Grand Crossing neighborhood is that there are not enough beautiful or safe places close by to explore. This is how we came up with the idea for a unit called "Finding the Math and Science in Millennium Park". Millennium Park in downtown Chicago is a magnificent and modern public space that includes world famous architecture, sculpture and landscaping. It is an ideal area in which to explore math and science concepts. When we surveyed our students to see how many of them had been to the park, we were not surprised to find that only two out of 60 students had been. Thus, creating a unit around the Millennium Park not only affords us the chance to develop a curriculum that utilizes real-world examples, it also allows us to expose the students to a vital area of their city that they have yet to experience. There are multiple ways we can use Millennium Park to support the established learning standards for our fifth graders. For example, in the Crown Fountain we can discuss math concepts such as area and perimeter. We can also identify the sculptor's use of technology, and learn about the properties of water in the reflecting pool. We plan to connect social science and art by introducing the sculptures and the artists in the classroom through the use of books and the internet. Then we plan take the students to the park on May 19th and give them activities that ask them to uncover the math and science concepts used in the park. Each team of students will have a sketch book where they will draw and articulate the math and science principles they see in the sculptures and the land around them. They will also collect data using a point and shoot camera. The culminating activity for this unit will be a presentation that each group does in the classroom when we return. Each group will present all the math and science connections they made through their photographs, drawings, and writing. Our students deserve to leave the South Side of Chicago and experience a beautiful space in their city that they may not even know exists. The students need real world experiences that will allow the artist, mathematician, or scientist to be awakened inside them. This is an opportunity we do not want them to miss.
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