Sunday, January 25, 2004

Kids take school's measure

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

Sixth-graders Michele Taylor (in window) and Chelcie Whoberry measure a window at Fairfax Elementary School. During the week-long project, very few parts of the building and items it contained went unmeasured.
(Thomas E. Witte/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)
FAIRFAX - At Fairfax Elementary this week, students climbed ladders, crawled on floors and asked the principal to stand up straight.

It was all part of "Measurement Week" at the Mariemont City school and few people or things were left unmeasured.

Doors, classrooms, hallways, cabinets - you name it, students measured it. What they didn't measure at school, they measured at home.

"It's such an abstract idea for these guys," said Principal Keith Koehne. "We're taking an abstract idea and putting it into concrete things."

"The more objects they measure, the better understanding they'll have about what real-life objects measure out to be," said fourth grade teacher Amy Tepe.

The curriculum varied according to grade level, but teachers had the flexibility to incorporate the lesson plans as they saw fit.


A simple lesson in social studies has turned into an adventure for a third-grade class at Fairfax Elementary.Dubbed "Where In the World Is Fairfax," the project involved sending letters and questionnaires to more than a dozen U.S. schools named Fairfax or located in a community named Fairfax.

It ended with a cross-curriculum study, including language arts and technology, said teacher Maria Childs.

Anna Guido  

The project also involved family interaction. Students, for example, were asked to help prepare a meal at home, using as many measuring utensils as possible. Parents were asked to take their children out for a drive to give them a feel for distance.

Teachers are expecting some variations in the measurements students are taking. But that, too, will be a lesson (on why variations occur). Donevan Struve, 6, a kindergartner in Mary Salmon-Jacob's class, said he measured soda at home and quickly learned that he'd prefer one cup of pop to one-half cup of pop "because I like pop."

As upperclassmen, sixth-graders got to be a little more creative about what they measured. One group had custodian Mike Maschinot get out his ladder so they could measure the height from a hallway floor to a light fixture on the ceiling.

Another group, as they passed by the principal, asked him if he could please stand straight - and still - so they could measure his height.

Their rough estimate: 5 feet, 8 inches tall. Their metric conversion: 1 meter, 76 centimeters. Reality: 5 feet 8.


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