Applying VEX GO
Connection to VEX GO
The VEX GO Kits are a great way to help students build spatial reasoning in relation to mathematical concepts. By engaging in hands-on experiences with proportional pieces and fractional representations, students’ ability to mentally compose and decompose numbers and their parts will grow. This visualization of fractional parts to whole relationships in this Unit relies strongly on spatial reasoning skills, and can give students additional mental strategies for visualization on future tasks when they do not have manipulatives at hand.
In this Lab, students will use the VEX GO Fractions build to create a dual sided base box, where each side represents the “whole”. Inside the box, they will layer different plates and beams to represent different fractional equivalents. In the first part of Play, the focus will be on representing a “whole” in fractional form (1/1, 2/2, 3/3, etc.). In the second part of Play, this will be extended to representing and recognizing equivalent fractions, using parts of the whole (½ = 2/4, etc.). In each instance, they will be able to test, touch, and see their fractions in relation to the whole, as they engage in hands-on learning of fractional math concepts.
By completing the Fractions GO STEM Lab Unit, students gain real and authentic learning experiences of building and testing a tool that makes an abstract mathematical concept tangible and visible. Throughout the Lab, students will create their own visualizations of whole numbers and fractions. This action enables students to make more concrete connections between a written fraction, and both its drawn and tangible representations. When students progress to performing mathematical operations on fractions, they will be able to call upon these strategies to help figure out more complex problems.
The Fractions Unit is a great way to practice spatial reasoning skills. While testing for equivalency, encourage students to use spatial language to describe how pieces fit together or their relative sizes. Ask students questions like, “What do you notice about the size of the pieces and the denominator of the fraction?” to help them make the connection between the mathematical concepts and the tangible building more concrete.
Teaching with Building
Throughout this Unit, students will be engaged with different engineering, building or inquiry-based learning concepts. The Labs within this unit will follow a similar format:
- Teachers will help students make a personal connection to the concepts that will be taught in the Lab.
- Students will complete the build.
- Instruct: Explain the activity/experiment that the students are doing. How should they get started? What are the rules? What is the success criteria?
- Model: Show an example of a partially filled out data sheet, game sheet, or an illustration of what the robot should be doing during the activity. Make that activity visible and give the teacher tips on how to also make it visible.
- Facilitate: Teachers will be given prompts to engage students in a discussion about what the goals of the activity are, the spatial reasoning involved with the building, and how to troubleshoot unexpected outcomes for their designs or plans for an activity. This discussion will also verify that the students understand the purpose of the activity and how to properly use the pieces from the VEX GO Kit.
- Remind: Teachers will remind students that their build, design, or attempt at the activity will not be fully correct the first time. Encourage multiple iterations and remind students that trial and error is a part of learning.
- Ask: Teachers will engage students in a discussion that will focus on developing a growth mindset. Some examples could include, “Did something go wrong? Great! How can you use this mistake to improve your design?” or “Not happy with your design? Fantastic! Who can you seek feedback from to make your design better?”
- Students have an opportunity to communicate their learning in multiple ways. Using the Choice Board, students will be given a “voice and choice” for how they best display their learning.