Names of Polygons & Vibrating Molecules

From: Linda Akiyama, Oakland, California

Here is the “Names of Polygons” chant w/ rhythm block accompaniment that I’m doing with the kids. They really like performing it for each other. When they took the polygon vocabulary test today a lot of the students were doing it quietly at their desks to remember which polygon was which. The 7-sided polygon is a heptagon from the Greek heptos for seven. Sept is Latin for seven, but I guess the Greeks just had one up on the Romans when it came to geometry, thus the name.

I also did something this week that is movement-oriented although not body music. I work a lot with UCSF in science education and am teaching a course for elementary school teachers this summer on teaching about Matter. I use a lot of movement activities. When we explore states of matter, one of the things that I do with my class is have students be models of water molecules. We create a model of a container with 4 desks in a square to form an empty cubical space in the middle. I have about 8 kids go inside the space. Each one stretches out his/her arms, with hands representing the 2 hydrogen atoms and the body as the oxygen atom. First we do water in a solid state. They connect to one another. As molecules do in matter that is in a solid state, the kids continuously vibrate their bodies, but do not travel from one place to another. Then I pretend to apply heat and the model molecules break apart, pushing, bumping and sliding past each other as they travel around the bottom of our “container.”  Then I pretend to apply more heat and I also open the “container.”  The kids become molecules of water that is in a gas state and escape the container flying around the room independent of each other. It’s exciting for them to learn that even though the solid objects around them look completely still, on a molecular level, its all vibrating!

» Download the Names of Polygons Chart (PDF)

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