wpid-IMAG0084This year, we’ve been using the Bridges math series. It’s made in Oregon, which is nice, and does a good job of using a constructivist, hands-on approach to learning and using math concepts. The series has two parts: the regular math block, and a daily Number Corner.

Number Corner is a roughly 15 minute period of time each day when we explore different aspects of math. We look at patterns, collect and graph data, make observations, construct 3-dimensional block formations, and grapple with key concepts that change each month. December was a time of looking at carrots.

We started the month with two specimens, appropriately named Carrot 1 and Carrot 2. They were slightly different sizes, which we measured as 180 grams and 150 grams, respectively, when we began our journey of inquiry. We made predictions about what might happen to the carrots over the next three weeks until winter break. We weighed and recorded changes each day, creating graphs periodically to track the carrots advance into oblivion.

As expected, the carrots lost weight as, we posited, they lost water. By the time we were ready to break for the holidays, the carrots were each in the neighborhood of 30 grams. Our experiment officially over, I was prepared to toss the depleted veggies in the dustbin and move on. The students, however, had other plans.

They insisted we keep the carrot experiment going through the break and see what we’d find when we examined and weighed the increasingly odious-looking roots in January. I agreed, and we all left school with our own theories of what we would see when we returned.

What we saw was the closest thing to a veggie mummy I’ve ever witnessed. Two dark, shriveled, hardened shadows of their former orange glory. They each weighed approximately 10 grams and had the distinct appearance of something you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Again, I was interested in the update but ready to toss the carrots out and move on.

“NO!” insisted the students.

“Let’s put them in water and see if we can bring them back to life!” demanded Gabe.

“Oh…alright…” relented Mr. Cosand.

So, into the pan of water went the carrots, and up to the role of vegetable caretaker ascended Gabe. We we all hoping something would happen, but we were all surprise by how much change we saw in the next couple of days. Within one day, the carrots had plumped significantly and made a large step back toward their original shape. By the second day, both carrots were looking remarkably orange and carrot-like, albeit with rather disconcerting and dark lumps all over their exterior.

“We made Carrot Zombies!” exclaimed the class. Looking closely, I was apt to agree with them. We dried them off and slapped them on the scale. Each carrot weighed between 70 and 80 grams! We were elated to find that our hopes of reconstitution had been amply rewarded. Science and math had shown themselves as relevant universes in which we could explore and find exciting realizations. Everyday elements took on the glow of celebrity and the students walked away with a better understanding of making predictions and observations, data collection, graphing, analysis and the scientific method.

Happily, they also walked away without demanding we try anything else with the transmogrified carrots. I’m thankful. They were starting to seriously creep me out.