My review of PUMAS


PUMAS is a mnemonic for Practical Use of Math And Science.  Many of these activities were written by scientist and engineers.  I looked at dozens of these activities.  One suggestion I have for the website is to group the activities by age group.  I became frustrated when I thought titles were interesting and found the activity to be geared for 9-12th grade.

            My first impression of these activities is that they are too advanced for my students.   Maybe it’s because my science background is rusty.  I would not feel comfortable in doing most of these activities written with the 6-8th grader in mind.  I looked at some 3-5th grade activities and they appeared beyond my abilities too.

            I did find one activity I was comfortable with.  It’s called The Fall of the Ruler.  The materials needed are inexpensive.  The students would like the hands-on lesson.  The science part of this activity deals with human reaction time.  The math part is recording the results on a scatter plot or calculating the mean.

            Before the experiment, the ruler is converted to a “time keeper” using a chart supplied by PUMAS.  I would do this before the experiment, rather than have the students do the conversion, because the decimals involved are confusing.

            For the experiment, students work in pairs.  One holds the ruler up vertically and drops the ruler without warning.  The other student holds their fingers below the ruler, at the 0, and tries to pinch the ruler quickly as it is coming down.  Students can record their results on the scatter plot or calculate the average.


One response »

  1. Donna,
    Your suggestion about organing the activities by grade level would defintely make using the examples on the website easier. As you also noted, even if we find the right grade level, the activities can be challenging. It is so important to know your students and choose activities that they can understand. But this sounds like one they would enjoy.


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