April 16, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

Moon Phases

In fifth grade science, one of the things we study is the movement of different objects in our solar system. Earlier in the year we learned about how the moon’s gravity affects the Earth’s tides. Now we are learning why the moon appears to look different in the sky at different times of the month.

We have been learning about the movement of the moon by using different models. For one, we put a styrofoam ball on a pencil. We used a bright lamp to represent the sun, and our own bodies represented the Earth. As we moved the Moon in a revolution around the Earth, we could see how the Moon was illuminated differently depending on its position in the sky. Here’s a slideshow showing this:

Phases of the Moon from S Hamman on Vimeo.

We also created moon phase models using Oreo cookies! In partners, we drew pictures of the eight phases of the moon, then we made models from the cookies. The frosting represents the illuminated part of the moon.

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Do you think planets have phases, too? 

(We’re going to find out the answer to this question after a video conference in a few weeks, and we’ll post the answer after we find out!)

January 29, 2015
by Mrs. Hamman

Fifth Grade Connections

This morning, we realized that at one time, all three of our fifth grade classes were connecting with other people, using three different methods! Mr. Hendrie’s class was using Zoom to video conference with other classes and a scientist at the Denver Museum of Museum of Nature and Science.  Mr. Maijala’s class was talking about math with Mr. Lockwood’s class, using Skype. Our class was in a Google Hangout with Mrs. Renzulli’s class learning about measurement conversions and how they are used in real life. Yesterday we connected with other classes in a completely different way, a Twitter chat with the #stu2stuchat (Student to Student) hashtag!

Google Hangout

Google Hangout

It’s kind of amazing to think that just a few years ago, students hardly ever had the chance to connect with others outside the classroom. Now we do it all the time!

How do you think connecting with other people helps you learn? 

October 1, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman

Wonder: Our Favorite Precepts


Our class read aloud for first quarter has been the book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. It’s the kind of book that makes you think, but it also makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. We’ll probably be a little sorry when it ends in a few days!

As we’ve been reading we’ve also been learning a lot about literature. We’ve learned about:

  • Point of view: the book is all written in first person, but there are multiple narrators so we get to hear different points of view.
  • Elements of plot: we’re now reading the resolution of the story.
  • Character development: we’ve seen how characters can change and grow through the course of book, while still keeping their major traits.
  • Theme: we’ve discussed how a book can have more than one theme, and how the message, lesson or moral may be different depending on the reader.

In Wonder, the main character has a teacher named Mr. Browne. Every month Mr. Browne introduces a precept, which he defines as “rules about really important things”, or words that help guide the choices people make.  Some of them are famous quotes and others are written by the characters in the book. It’s been interesting for our class to discuss the precepts as they come up in the book.

R.J. Palacio just released a new book called 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s PreceptsWe’ve started exploring the precepts in this new book, choosing our favorites and writing some of our own. Some of us made Haiku Decks to show the ones we like the best.

Andrew – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Naomi – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Ciara – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Aiden – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Falicity – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Irlanda – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Adrien – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Our next read aloud will be The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer Holm. We’re looking forward to connecting with others while we’re reading that one, since it’s one of the choices for for Global Read Aloud 2014!

What is your favorite precept?

September 23, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman

Oreo Project 2014

It’s time for the OREO Project! This project connects us with other classes around the country and world who are talking about math using OREO cookies.

This year we divided into four groups to do our two official attempts at stacking, then just for fun we did a round-robin style tournament where the winners from each group went against each other. Congratulations to Darren, the winner of the tournament!

Then we did some calculations about our results. We determined that the mode of our data was 18, the median was17, and the mean was 16.65. Our highest stack overall was 20. In Mr. Maijala’s class next door, the highest was 22. We’re going to have to ask them about the techniques they used to get their stacks higher!

In our groups we did some more math with the nutritional data of Oreos. Did you know:

  • There are more calories in a serving of regular Oreos than in a serving of Double Stuff. However, if you read the package carefully, you’ll see a “serving” of regular Oreos is 3 cookies, while a serving of Double Stuff is only 2!
  • There are approximately 2,800 calories in an entire package of Double Stuff Oreos. That’s about 40% more calories than you’re supposed to eat in a whole day!
  • A serving of regular Oreos contains 10% of the daily requirement of iron. You’d have to eat 30 cookies to get your whole daily requirement—probably not a good idea! We noticed there is more iron in regular Oreos than Double Stuff, so we assumed the iron must be in the cookie part and not the filling.
  • One serving of regular Oreos contains 8% of the daily allowance of sodium. If you ate 12.5 servings, or 37.5 cookies, you would reach 100% of your daily allowance of sodium.

Many of us in this class did the Oreo stacking two years ago, and we noticed that our stacks this year were overall much shorter than the ones from that year; we had several stacks of over 20 that year and our highest was 25. We wondered why that was. Do you think something about the cookie design could have changed in the past two years? Some of us thought that we are just less patient than we were when we were third graders! We’re curious to watch the results page and see how the data from other classes matches our results.

Did you participate in the Oreo Project?


September 9, 2014
by Mrs. Hamman

A Math Question

In math class we learn all kinds of new things, but we really like it when we come across math problems that relate to real life. That’s why we love the site 101 Questions. It has pictures and videos of  things you might see in real life. We like to find an interesting picture, then think of math questions to solve that relate to that picture.

One of the pictures we saw on 101 Questions recently made us think! (This picture was also posted on Yummy Math, another awesome math site.) Here is the picture:

"Soda Santa" by Brian Marks is licensed under CC-NC-BY 3.0

Soda Santa” by Brian Marks is licensed under CC-NC-BY 3.0

Have you ever seen a display like that at the grocery store? Most of us have. Looking at this picture made us think of a lot of math questions. In fact, within a few minutes we had brainstormed a list of over 50 questions about that one picture! Some of our questions were:

  • How tall is it?
  • How long would it take one person to make? What about two people?
  • How many calories are in all of the soda?
  • How much did it all cost? What if it was on sale? What if only certain brands were on sale?
  • What size of a truck would you need to transport all of it?
  • If you took all the empty cans to the recycling center, how much money would you make?
  • How long would it take one person  to drink all of the soda?

After we brainstormed we voted on which question we actually wanted to answer, and the question about how long it would take to drink was the winner.

Then we had to decide how to answer that question. The first thing we had to do was figure out how many boxes were in the picture. We realized that a quick way of counting would be to figure out the areas of the rectangular sections. (We won’t tell you the amount we came up with in case you want to do this problem yourself!) After we figured out the amount of boxes, we multiplied that by 12 to figure out the amount of individual cans.

Then we had to figure out how long it would take to drink all those cans. We realized that we would have to use some estimation, since different people would drink at different rates. We also realized that different types of different soda (like diet vs. non-diet) probably would take different times to drink, and it would make a difference whether or not the soda was cold or room temperature, or whether you poured it into a cup, or whether you used a straw…

For our problem, we decided to all drink one kind of soda (Sprite) at one temperature (cold), out of a can, and without a straw. We chose 12 people to time while they drank a can; we told them not to race, but to drink it at their regular rate. As we suspected, there was a large range in our times. The longest time was just over 13 minutes, and the shortest time was under 45 seconds!

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To make the times easier to work with, we converted all the times to seconds and rounded the decimals to hundredths of a second. Then we had to decide what time to use for our math problem. Some of us wanted to use the mean, while others wanted to use the median. Because we are learning to divide with decimals, Mrs. Hamman thought finding the mean would be good practice, so that’s what we did.

Then there were only a couple of steps left! We multiplied the number of cans by our mean, then converted our answer into other time intervals. Are you curious about our final answer?

By our calculations (rounded to the nearest hundredth), if one person drank all that soda at the same rate and didn’t stop, it would take that one person…

1,299,590.16 seconds,

OR 21,659.84 minutes,

OR 361.00 hours,

OR 15.04 days,

OR 2.15 weeks

to drink all that soda!

If you like to make up your own math problems, you should check out 101 Questions and Yummy Math. If you’d like to see lots more creative displays at grocery stores, here’s a fun Flickr group!

Does the Soda Santa picture make you think of any other math questions?

In the part of the U.S.A. where we live, most people call carbonated drinks like the ones in the picture “soda”. What do they call them where you live?


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