Lower School science teacher Mrs. Hoffman hosted the Mini Metric Olympics last week in her 4th grade class. The stakes were high. More than two dozen competitors from all corners of the Los Angeles area gathered in Pasadena to compete in six events with no prior training. Medals would be awarded. Olympic glory was in reach.
Each group participated in six events: the Paper Plate Discus Throw, the Cotton Ball Shot Put, the Straw Javelin, the Right-hand Marble Grab, Left-hand Sponge Squeeze, and of course, the crowd favorite, the Big Foot Contest.
Alright, so maybe the 4th Grade Mini Metric Olympics weren’t quite that serious. But serious learning and connections were made.
The task was simple: attempt each event, estimate the distance, weight, or volume, and then take accurate measurements to compare how close the estimate was.
For instance, in the right-hand marble grab, Olympians grabbed a handful of marbles from a jar and placed them on a scale. After guessing how much they thought their handful weighed in grams, they used a triple beam balance to get an accurate reading. The left-handed sponge squeeze included soaking a sponge in water, squeezing its contents into a cup, and estimating the volume before measuring it in a graduated cylinder.
Estimations got closer and closer as Olympians went through the three throwing events. Though many of their first eye-ball guesses were off the mark, they improved tremendously with more experience.
By the end of the Olympics, our champions could use and read several tools for measuring, gained a better visual understanding of centimeters, grams, and milliliters, perhaps most importantly, learned just exactly how many square centimeters their foot was.