Age Estimation – Day One Lesson & Community Building

We want to try something different this year for the first day of Algebra I.  (We are hoping that other’s will join us too!)  Our learners will arrive with their new MacBooks. We want to use them immediately.  We think we are going to try the age estimation activity

The email request is shown below:

     We need you in pictures!  (and we need your permission to divulge your age to our students, if you’re game!)
     We are planning a multi-disciplinary/multi-grade lesson on graphing and numeracy that would help our students to start the year off using their new MacBooks.  We need volunteers who would be willing to tell us your true ages (as of August 11, 2011), knowing the students will discover these ages during implementation of the project. We will also be showing your picture; if you have a picture of yourself that you would like us to use, please email it to us.  If not, we will just use a photo on file.  We appreciate so much your willingness to participate, and we also appreciate your right to “pass on this one”.
     We usually use celebrities but thought it would be good community building to use our faces.  Jill piloted this activity with her 8th graders in May, and it was a big hit!  The kids suggested that we use faculty faces in August and the celebrities in May.  Think how great it would be for the kids to guess who we are (and how old we are – if they are smart, they will underestimate! – if not, what a teaching opportunity.)
     So, if you are game, please send us a photo and your age/date of birth.  Please?

Here is the presentation that we usually use:

In about 24 hours, we received 12 responses!  Enough to build the first lesson.  At the end of the week, 40% of the faculty responded to participate. Enough to build three lessons – one for 6th grade, one for 7th grade, and one for 8th grade.

Some of the GREAT replies include:

  • “I love the people I get to work with.”
  • “I will be 55 just like the speed limit!  If some kids says, “is that all??!!” feel free to smack ’em.”
  • “Well…a lady never tells…but I liked Gloria Steinum’s comment when she turned 60, “This is what 60 looks like.”  So, you can tell the kiddies that I am (almost) XX,  if you don’t think you will scare them to death.  :-)”
  • “I guess we cannot use that picture of Darlene if it is for student use, huh?!?!  I will send a picture for sure!  How much time do I have to go to glamor shots????”

And the pictures are great.  Can you image the face of a JH student when they see their principal like this?  How fun!

So, what’s the activity?

We are going to show you a series of photos, and you are to estimate each person’s age.  We want to know “Who is the best estimator (and who is the worst)?”   All you have to do is estimate the age of each person and enter it in the spreadsheet.  The learners guess the age of each person in the slideshow.

We think that we will use our teachers instead of the celebrities.  My 8th graders reported that they did not always know all of their teachers on the first day of school.  We hope that this lesson will help our learners connect with their teachers and build our community.

What about the math?

How will we determine the best estimator? the worst?  We will decide as a class.  Let the learners collaboratively develop their criteria to determine the best and the worst.

Usually, the first comment is to find the difference in the estimate and the actual age and sum the differences us – a great first thought.  The sign of the difference has meaning.

Did you over estimate or under estimate?  How does the sign of the difference help you decide if you over or under estimated? If your sum is the closest to zero, are you the best estimator?

How can we find how far off the estimates are but eliminate the direction of “off-ness?”   If we find the absolute value of the difference in the estimate and the actual age, will we find the best and worst estimators?

What would a graph of this data look like?  Which variable would be acceptable for the independent variable? Does it matter?

Why is there a positive correlation in the plot of the data?  What would be the line of best fit?  How do you know?

Can you determine from the graph if you over or under estimated?

What else can be learned?

There are several spreadsheet skills to introduce with this lesson.  The learners will generate a scatter plot and graph a function.  Mental math will be used.

From experience, this lesson creates a loud conversational classroom.  Shock and awe at some of the ages and estimates!  Lots of laughter mixed with learning.  In May, the entire activity took approximately 30 minutes.  We hope that we can use the first 55 minute class period to learn and laugh together as we discuss our community while doing a little math.


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