This activity could take place in the museum or in the classroom. It is differentiated so educators can decide how best to adjust the level of instruction to fit students' abilities.
This activity is often part of the Fourth Grade: Material Matters curricular tour.
Objective: Students will become familiar with vocabulary (scale, angle). They will estimate measurement of a large object using trigonometry principles.
1. Engage students by asking questions about this large sculpture: This is a very tall sculpture named Orion. What properties of matter/of its material make it so stable and let the artist build it so tall? Could you make Orion with spaghetti? Playdoh? Legos? What properties does steel have that make this sculpture possible that playdoh doesn't have?
2. Discuss relative size, and how a shape or object can double or triple in size. For example, explore how a triangle can expand or shrink. If you have access to a computer, create a shape in a basic editing program and adjust the shape to expand or contract, explaining the the proportions and angles remain constant.
1. Watch this video about how to measure a tree (without climbing it or asking a squirrel).
· For fun, let’s measure how tall this is. (use youtube link above for discussion of how to do this)
· Look carefully at the material that makes this sculpture. Ping it with your fingers, knock on it. How would you describe the visual and tactile qualities of steel?
· What are some things about Orion we could measure? [let them name a few: weight? Temperature? electrical conductivity?]
· Some of those measurements would require special instruments but there is one measurement we can make with just our hands and feet. [Measure the height using your hand and pacing it off as in Youtube video link above.]
· Do you think you could bend this metal? How? What equipment would be required to move or bend this piece?
· Discuss meaning of the name of Orion. Show constellation. The artist used steel to make something that looks like a constellation. Why? [constellations are big, steel is strong enough to make some thing really tall? This is an idea. What are yours?]