2023 Kansas City National Conference

October 25-28, 2023

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FILTERS APPLIED:Postsecondary, Poster, Physical Science


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Using Pan and Digital Balances to Describe and Compare Weight

Friday, October 27 • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Kansas City Convention Center - Exhibit Hall, Poster Session Aisle

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Different Instruments for Quantifying Qualifying Weight
Weight measurement with pan and digital balances.

STRAND: Students and Sensemaking

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The poster aims to present student ideas about mathematics and computational thinking (MCT) in the context of weight (elementary) or mass (secondary). Standards K-PS2-1 and 3-PS2-1 emphasize and guide the three-dimensional approach. Participants consider the differences and similarities between a pan and digital balance with a Venn diagram. Students typically think of weight as a quantitative measure. The pan balance can be used to describe the weight of an object both qualitatively and quantitatively. In mathematics education, pan balances quantify the weight of objects with a set of known weights. Weighted plastic of one, five, or ten increments placed on one side of the pan quantitatively measures the ”weight” of the object on the other pan. Educators use “weight” to describe “mass” and refer to heaviness or the amount of stuff an object has at the elementary level. Comparing and contrasting quantities and relationships align with the SEP of using MCT.

After comparing the weight of two or more objects with a pan and digital balance, a Venn diagram structures students' thinking about the weight measurement tools. We present students’ ideas about balances and offer strategies to uncover students’ ideas about qualitative and quantitative measurements.

Jaclyn Murray (Mercer University: Macon, GA)

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