Caitlin Zolet and Stacey Roshan, Bullis School

Bullis Students Make “Math Clocks” Using Texthelp’s EquatIO, Old CD’s and the Laser Engraver

This is a guest blog post from Caitlin Zolet and Stacey Roshan, educators at the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. The original post can be found on Stacey's personal blog: techieMusings.

Last May, my colleague — middle school math teacher Caitlin Zolet — was looking to bring some fun and creative expression to exam review for her pre-algebra students. Inspired by math wall clocks, Caitlin decided to have her students pull together skills they had learned over the course of the year to design clocks of their own.

clock collage with texthelpers

Last school year, students created these clocks on paper. After perfecting a math expression or equation to correspond to each number on the clock, students drew their “math clock.” In class, students exchanged clocks with one another to work through the various projects and sharpen the various pre-algebra skills each expression required them to apply.

This school year, Caitlin decided to take things up a notch and have students actually design real, working clocks in our BITlab.

Images of the creation process: from creating in EquatIO mathspace, to spray painting, to laser etching in the BITlab

Screenshots of student work in EquatIO's mathspace

Assignment Details:

For their cumulative trimester project, pre-algebra students were tasked with designing an analog clock face using the information they had learned over the course of the year. They were to use expressions and equations that, when solved or simplified, would equal a number on the clock face.

Students were asked to:
  1. create a rough draft on paper with an answer key
  2. create a clockface on EquatIO mathspace; download the final image as a PNG
  3. insert the clockface PNG image downloaded in step 2 onto this Google Drawing template
  4. spray paint their CD
  5. laser etch their clockface onto their painted CD in the BITlab


Caitlin noted some of the following highlights from this year’s version of the Clock Project:
  • Improved outcomes:
    • Students gained technology fluency through writing the equations on EquatIO, importing their designs onto Google Drawing, and then using the Laser Engraver in the BITlab.
    • MakerEd enhanced this project because students were more invested in creating something tangible.
  • Artistic element: The original plan was for students to spray paint the CDs a solid color; however, students independently took the design process a step further and did graffiti-style art on the clocks. Their designs far exceeded expectations and added even more to the project.
  • Repurposing materials: Students realized that they could make something completely new from repurposed materials, like old CD’s. The clock kits (hands and battery element) were inexpensive as well. Students realized very few resources were needed to bring these clocks to life!
  • Exposure: It was great to get Middle School students into the BITlab to expose them to opportunities they can extend upon in the Upper School.

Final Projects:

Here is a collage of some final student work —

Clock Collage

If you have any questions about this project, you can reach out to Stacey on Twitter or via her blog, techieMusings.


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