Decimals, Epidemics & Fly Vomit – It’s science!

📖Standards

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.7 Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.A.1 Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Technology

Students will need a phone or tablet to play the game.

Time

75 minutes

Lesson Summary

Learn decimals while weighing a flies and the food they eat. The lesson begins with a game on decimals and the Aztec smallpox epidemic, then moves to another disease spreader – flies. Students learn the role flies play in our ecosystem, how they eat and reproduce.

Lesson

1. Play a game

Play AzTech: Empiric Empire to learn basic conversions from fractions to decimals. Empiric Empire is available free for iPad or iPhone and for Android phones. As an added bonus, students will also learn about epidemics. It’s worth mentioning that the smallpox epidemic was spread by viruses but a lot of other diseases are spread by flies.

Note: For summer learning, you may want to just copy the paragraph above into your Google classroom for students to download the games to their phones.

2. Watch a video

I pasted in a link starting after the first minute because that is mostly telling you to like/ subscribe and comment. Ah, YouTube!

Bell Ringer – What if flies went extinct ?  This 7:33  minute video discusses flies as agricultural pests and disease vectors, but also their benefits as scavengers eating up decaying carcasses, pollinators and animal feed.

Here is the link if you’d like to post in your Google classroom or other CMS for students to watch at home. https://youtu.be/80Iqp6bqc-0?t=76

3. Read about flies & perform a demonstration

Recommended reading: Eat like a house fly. Houseflies and barf

What really happens when a house fly lands on your food? Print out this page from Science World – Canada , include the link in your Google classroom or other CMS for students to read, or just read the page to students during class. The demonstration requires vinegar, jello and a turkey baster – things many people have around the house or can pick up easily at a local store. It also includes a list of vocabulary words and definitions, which fits perfectly with our philosophy of direct teaching of academic language.

4. Complete word journal

This lesson provides the opportunity for students to learn many words, in the reading, in the videos and possibly in the Empiric Empire game as well. Students add words or terms with which they are unfamiliar to their word journal. Some teachers call it a personal dictionary, to others it’s a word journal. Regardless, the goal is the same, for students to record new words, give a dictionary definition and “make the word their own”. This can be done by rewriting the definition in their own words, using the word in a sentence or including an illustration of the word.

Two dictionary sites to recommend for definitions are below. An added bonus to mention to students is that they can hear words pronounced.

Since students often ask for an example, here is an example you can link in your lesson

The personal dictionary assignment, with all links, can be found here. Feel free to copy and paste into your Google classroom or other site, or print out for your class.

5. Presentation on Decimals in Science (Fly Experiment)

Give this presentation on using decimals to weigh flies, their containers and the food they eat to answer the question, “Do flies really eat 10 times their weight each day?”

Watch a second video

I recommend watching the first 5 1/2 minutes of the Facts About Flies – Secret Nature video  to give the students some idea about both flies as vectors of disease but also important scavengers consuming decaying material. The full documentary is 49 minutes, which I personally found to be more about flies than I wanted to know.

Assessment

Three types of assessment are included in this lesson.

  1. The Word Journal assignment is completed individually and submitted.
  2. Math questions answered within the Empiric Empire game are scored automatically with immediate feedback and student results can be viewed in the teacher reports.
  3. Math questions posed within the presentation can be answered as a whole class, having students hold up a card with their answer or with individual students responding and asking the rest of the class to agree or disagree.


Differentiated instruction

Review of Decimal Addition

One-minute step-by-step video from TeacherTube on Adding Decimals may be helpful for students who need a review of decimal addition.

Watch the whole video

For students who are extremely interested in insects, watching the entire 49 minute video of Facts about Flies will satisfy their curiosity

Experiments with fly larva

For teachers who want to do a deep dive into the role flies in consuming food waste, the experiment above uses 100 black soldier fly larvae. I am extremely impressed with this lesson because not only does it include a link to where to buy maggots (on Amazon, of course) but also answers the obvious question of what do you do with 100 fly larvae after your experiment is over. The answer is that you feed these to your class reptile. Would I bring 100 maggots into my classroom? Not in a million years, but that is why I am not an entomologist.

You DO have a class snake, don’t you?

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