The Prime Radicals

Welcome to the ultimate clubhouse, where four good friends conceive, plan, research, design, create, build, decorate and fix it all themselves.

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  • Go Fly a Kite!
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    February 27, 2014

    Alanna and Kevin hear woeful sounds emanating from the Workshop where they find Uncle Norm all twisted up in string with what sort of looks like a kite dangling from the end of it. (Think Charlie Brown.) Norm puts on his best casual look and tries to hop over to the Rads. Uncle Norm explains that he saw people in the park having a lot of fun while flying kites and figured he'd make one for the Kids. Unfortunately, he wasn't too successful. He holds up his sad, little makeshift kite. It promptly droops over. (SX slide whistle) Luckily Kevin knows a person who knows all about kites. He'll get the info and relay it back to Uncle Norm. "This WE gotta see!" This episode is about the properties of a kite. Through the construction of a simple kite, we reinforce the concept of symmetry, perimeter; congruence (i.e.,there are two sets of adjacent sides [next to each other] that are the same length [congruent] and there is one set of congruent angles. [These are opposite of each other and are between sides that are different lengths]); and, the right angle (i.e.,the intersection of the diagonals of a kite form 90 degree (right) angles. [This means that they are perpendicular. The longer diagonal of a kite bisects the shorter one. This means that the longer diagonal cuts the shorter one in half]).

  • Working on my Tangram
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    February 20, 2014

    Kevin and Alanna find a somewhat frustrated Uncle Norm struggling with a jigsaw puzzle. "I know if I press hard enough this piece will fit". He tries to bang a wrong piece into a spot. It just doesn't fit! As it happens Kevin has a project for class and he's chosen to focus on a very different kind of puzzle, a Chinese puzzle called a tangram. It's not the same as a traditional jigsaw puzzle, but pretty cool. Instead of fitting the pieces together in only one way, the seven tangram pieces can be arranged to make a great number of different figures. And Kevin wants to do something really fun so he has written a little play telling his version of the story of the tangram. With Alanna as a princess and Uncle Norm portraying a befuddled emperor, we have some fun acting out the story. In the end, all fits. In this episode, tangrams are used to provide students with the opportunity to use a manipulative set that has inherent mathematical qualities. Using tangrams can help students develop spatial skills by moving the pieces around to create vivid images. This provides opportunities to use and talk about several different related geometric shapes-an experience that can help students become more intuitive about geometry. The tangram pieces are related by area. The rules for tangram puzzles are quite simple: you must use all seven tans, they must lay flat, they must touch, and none may overlap. The episode also uses tangrams as a multicultural experience for students and illustrates an interdiciplinary connection with literacy.

  • What Are The Chances?
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    February 13, 2014

    The Kids have dealt with all sorts of weird and wonderful days as Rads, from Monday to Sunday, but every week their least favourite day is Chore Day! And it seems to Kevin that almost every time he spins the CHORE SPINNER he lands on "Dust the shelves". Even though Kevin feels it is his bad luck to get this one chore out of the 8 that are on the spinner, he and Alanna and Uncle Norm find out that luck has nothing to do with it. Kevin has the same chance of landing on this chore as he has of landing on "Do the Dishes" -he has a one in eight chance. And no matter how much a person may wish for some things to happen it's all random. But as they experiment with spinners and dice they also see that it can be a lot of fun taking chances. This episode is about probabilities and the common instruments of chance, e.g., spinners and dice. A spinner has 4 equal sectors colored yellow, blue, green and red. What are the chances of landing on blue after spinning the spinner? What are the chances of landing on red? In the curriculum, children are required to predict the frequency of an outcome in a simple probability experiment or game (e.g.,"I predict that an even number will come up 5 times and an odd number will come up 5 times when I roll a number cube 10 times."), then perform the experiment, and compare the results with the predictions, using mathematical language. They are also introduced to number fact families (in this example different ways to sum to seven).

  • There's Magic In Those Squares
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    February 6, 2014

    The Rads arrive at the workshop to find Uncle Norm, surrounded by dominoes, dice, board games, chess pieces, random jigsaw puzzle pieces, and a "twister game" spinner. When the Rads ask "What's up?" Uncle Norm explains that he has been chosen to host "Games Night" for his Hush-Hush Secret Co-workers and he wants to put a new twist on the get-together, so he was searching for new and interesting puzzles and games. The Rads will show him some grid games called magic squares, sure to make his party a success. Off to an elementary school teacher to learn all about how to make their own magic square game in time for Uncle Norm's Games Night! The purpose of this episode is to demonstrate the concept of magic squares. The simplest Magic Squares are square grids with a special arrangement of the numbers 1 to 9 in them. These grids are special because every row, column and diagonal adds up to the same number. Not all Magic Squares are drawn on 3 X 3 grids. There are also 4 X 4 grids in which the sum of all rows, columns and diagonals is 34. There are 880 ways to put the digits from 1 to 16 in the squares so that the sum is 34. This Magic Square appeared in the famous painting Melancholia by Albrecht Durer.

  • Cracking the Code!
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    January 30, 2014

    Uncle Norm's boss gave him an important top secret mission: and it involves sending the Normbot on a secret mission all around the world - but it's all very hush hush. Now it's up to Uncle Norm to find a way to conceal the top secret message that is travelling with the Normbot. He enlists the Rads to help, and soon they're on the trail of a professor who knows all about codes and how to encrypt information. Together, they come up with a fun and simple cipher for hiding the message the secret will never fall into the wrong hands! Bon Voyage Normbot! Letters are used in algebraic expressions (or formulas) to represent different numbers. To find the value of an expression, we substitute a number for a letter. In this episode, we introduce the concept simple substitution principles

  • I'm Diggin' Those Calculations
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    January 23, 2014

    Something just isn't adding up. Uncle Norm has been entering tons of different store contests but always seems to get the answers to the skill testing math questions wrong and it's testing his patience. And he's using a calculator! What gives? He finds it totally math-sterious. The Rads point out that loads of people don't really know how to use a calculator properly. We kid you not! So they visit an expert who shows them how to use the calculator correctly, including the pluses and minuses, and the all important clear button. With his newfound knowledge Uncle Norm enters another contest and to his delight wins a year's supply of pizzas. Definitely delicious and completely calculacious! In this episode, the calculator is used as a tool to observe and explore. The calculator is used as a tool for skip counting (a number pattern process that emphasizes the role of the '+' and '=' sign) and it is used for puzzles (place value and 'words'). The focus is on modeling appropriate and correct use of the calculator: choosing which operations and keys to use to solve a problem; correctly interpreting the solution displayed on the calculator; and, determining the appropriateness of the answer.

  • An Equal Share is Always Fair!
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    January 16, 2014

    Uncle Norm and Walter the rubber duck have been volunteered to help organize a bake sale to help the rubber duck-racing club buy a new training pool. The kids find Norm and Walter in the workshop, where Norm is wearing his special vest emblazoned with duck-racing patches and paraphernalia, and is surrounded by cakes, brownies, and cookie trays. Norm stares at a plate of cookies that has been cut into small unequal sections. He is muttering about complicated cutting methods ("Maybe I need a laser spatula?"). The kids look at the crumbly cookie mess: "You're not going to sell those, are you Uncle Norm"? They explain that he probably shouldn't divide small treats at all, but larger items, like round pies, pans of squares, and batches of cookies, should be divided into smaller, equal-sized portions. It would be fun to visit someone who divides cakes and other desserts. I know just the guy: "This ya gotta see!" Yum! Teaching division concepts in elementary school begins in the primary grades, when students learn the concept of fair shares or dividing things equally among groups. This progresses to students learning basic division facts, and finally, in Grade 4 or 5, students begin to expand their knowledge of division to the long division algorithm. Most mathematics educators suggest that teachers and parents introduce the concept of division by using the word 'grouping' since that is what division is: putting things into groups, e.g., dividing 12 by 4 is really just breaking apart 12 into 4 groups or sharing 12 objects among 4 people. In elementary classrooms, teachers use real objects to teach the principles of division to students.

  • Scale Me Up!
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    January 9, 2014

    The Rads arrive at the workshop to find Uncle Norm (sporting a black beret, and artist's smock) with small sketches of the Inventonator. He is attempting to recreate the sketches in a larger format for the workshop wall, of course his attempts are sad-looking and not proportional, making it difficult to recognize the Inventonator at all. He realizes that he doesn't know how to turn his small sketches into the giant outlines he needs. The Rads come to the rescue, helping Norm magnify the shapes by using math. A dilation is a type of geometric transformation that transforms an actual figure into a figure with different dimensions, without changing the shape of the original figure. A dilation can magnify a shape or reduce it in size. If the image is larger than the original, the dilatation is an enlargement. If the lengths have been doubled, the scale factor is 2. If the image is smaller than the original, the dilatation is a reduction. For this episode, we will focus primarily on the enlargement, specifically by using scale factors of 2 (doubling). Important vocabulary includes: enlargement, twice (or four or eight times) as large, scale factor of 2 (or 4 or 8), similar (in math, this means the enlarged figure has different dimension but the same shape as the original), horizontal and vertical axis, grid paper.

  • Slides, Flips, Turns and Quilts
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    January 2, 2014

    The kids have noticed that Uncle Norm's old quilt is quite threadbare and they decide to make a new one using a super cool design. With help from the Inventonator, they see that interesting designs can start with just one triangle! The Rads pay a visit to a star quilter, who teaches them how flipping, sliding and turning one triangle can make some really awesome patterns! This episode is about slides, flips and turns. These are geometric motions that change the position and/or orientation of a geometric shape but preserve its qualities (e.g., angle measures, lengths of sides, area).

  • Diamond in the Rough
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    December 26, 2013

    Alanna and Kevin put on their math hats when they enter the Stuff n' Such Shop and find Uncle Norm attempting to teach the Inventonator about measuring. "The better it measures, the better the Inventonator will be at inventing ingenious, possible impossible inventions!" The kids decide to make it more fun for the Inventonator - by learning the correct measurements to build a baseball diamond in the Clubhouse backyard! Kevin visits someone who is ,outstanding in his field, right now and will know how to help build a diamond from the ground up! This "ya gotta see!" This episode is about using instruments such as trundle wheels and tape measures to determine accurate measures of the length and width (and perimeter) of 2D shapes; and using templates of square metres to compute a grid estimation of area for the same 2D shapes. It is also about comparing "sizes" by considering what matters most: perimeter or area given the particular context. In the curriculum, children are required to estimate, measure, and record the perimeter of two-dimensional shapes, through investigation using standard units. They also learn how to measure area using simple grids (counting the squares, e.g., the number of 1 m by 1 m squares).