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Expanding Space Station

Jenna Mauriello
8th grade
Conyers Middle School
Rockdale County Schools


Students draw pictures to represent a growing pattern, create a T-chart to organize their data, and create a rule for the function.

Illustrative Task
  • Part 1: Using toothpick manipulatives, students will work in groups to determine the function for toothpick design patterns. Part 1 is designed to be a warm up activity. Student posters are set up with probing questions that scaffold their discovery of this particular function rule.
  • Part 2: Students create house designs with pattern block pieces (triangles and squares only). They use these designs to create a rule for the “growing house.” Then groups must design a graphic representation of their data. Examples of such a representation are circle graphs, pictographs, or bar graphs. This activity is scaffolded with teacher questions during different parts of the activity in order to guide the groups towards the correct answers.
  • Part 3: NASA launched an orbiting space station. Soon NASA officials decided to add two auxiliary modules to provide room for additional experiments. These modules must be added in pairs to maintain the stability of the orbit for the overall station. If the pattern shown below is continued, how many total units (the base station plus the modules) would be needed for the eighth version? For the nth version?

Color the diagram above to help explain your rule.
Explain your rule, using both words and symbols.

GPS Addressed
M8A1. Students will use algebra to represent, analyze, and solve problems.
  1. Represent a given situation using algebraic expressions or equations in one variable.
  2. Simplify and evaluate algebraic expressions.
  3. Solve algebraic equations or inequalities in one variable, including those involving absolute values.
  4. Solve equations involving several variables for one variable in terms of the others.
  5. Interpret solutions in problem context.

Video Information
Use these questions to guide your thinking about some of the important teacher ideas in the lesson featured in the video clip.
  1. What kinds of questions does the teacher ask to promote students’ problem solving?
  2. How is the teacher gauging students’ current understandings and building from those understandings?
  3. Consider the GPS standards listed with this video.
  4. What makes this lesson different from lessons you have taught on this topic?

Classroom Materials

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