The Paper Airplane Contest: Fabricating for Flight and Mathematical Problem Solving
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Kjellstrom, W., Tillman, D. & Cohen, J. (2012). The Paper Airplane Contest: Fabricating for Flight and Mathematical Problem Solving. In P. Resta (Ed.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012 (pp. 1046-1051). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/39714.
Vested interests across the U.S. express concerns that students leaving K-12 schools are unprepared to deal with the complexities of STEM disciplines in the real world (Bull, Knezek, & Gibson, 2009; Wagner, 2008). U.S. mathematics curricula and teaching practices, in particular, tend to lack authentic problem-solving experiences that help develop students’ 21st century skills. This study explores a models-and-modeling (M&M) approach to mathematics that involves realistic problems that require teams of students to generate a product or model that utilizes mathematic concepts for prediction, explanation, or exploration (English & Mousoulides, 2009). Eighteen students from one fifth-grade classroom participated in a M&M unit involving digitally fabricating paper airplanes as part of a qualitative study that assessed problem-solving strategies and learned content. Results confirmed that students struggle with ill-defined mathematics problems but that they are engaged by such activities.
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