Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to take my kids to the Phoenix Children’s Museum. OK, if I’m being honest, it was my parents who got to take their grandkids to the museum. I simply came along for the ride and got to snap pictures and videos with my camera phone.

Being a math teacher, however, I eventually stopped snapping photos of my kids and began taking pictures of the structures and activities at the museum. This post contains a few of those pictures and videos.

To be honest, I’m not sure how or if I would include these photos and videos in the math classroom. But I had two potential ideas:

  1. As individual inquiry based lessons/units. Sort of like a cache of #anyqs.
  2. As an entry event to prompt students to create their own children’s museum activities.

As such, I’ll provide the often-out-of-focus media along with some potential guiding questions. But I’d love to get your additional inspired ideas for use in the classroom.

Artifact #1

This crazy-huge tube contraption that would suck up hankies while they fly through at a superfast speed and spit them out somewhere. You could switch valves to make them hankies fly through different tube-paths. (again, sorry about the low quality. My phone doesn’t take as good video & pics as your phone) But just look at that grid! How can you NOT want to use it??


Guiding Questions:

  • How fast is the air running through this thing?
  • How quickly do hankies fall?

Artifact #2

These were two separate, but similar exhibits where kids could move around the pipes and joints to produce their own gravity-induced path.

Guiding Questions:

  • What’s the longest fall time I can achieve with this?
  • Could we make this out of scrap material?

Artifact #3

This was a giant track where kids could have little soap-box derby, type races. Sort of like hotwheels on a larger scale.


Artifact #4

Ball rolls down a path. Stop me if this sounds familiar.

  • Couldn’t we make one of these for our classroom?

Artifact #5

OK this wasn’t actually at the museum, but it was part of the grandparent-purchased haul my kids were able to achieve. It’s one of those marble rally things.



Suggested Activities:

  • Students answer any of the guiding questions they produce, and/or,
  • Students design their own exhibit or museum.

There were several other hands-on activities where that I didn’t capture with my camera very well: yes, even worse than the ones I posted. As such, teachers, I would recommend you investigate any local children’s museum. Actually, I would encourage you bring your High School and Middle School students as a field trip and ask them to find the math.

Just bring a better camera. Or a better phone.

One thought on “The Phoenix Children’s Museum provides a treasure trove of math-like things.

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