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Just an update on our efforts...the deception continues. Students are busy answering akadangreen's questions. We're rapidly approaching almost 200 comments.

My favorite interchange was between one of my most reserved students who hardly ever speaks loudly....akadangreen wanted to know about his mineral...lead. Lead you might ask? How did he pick lead? Well, his dad is a radiologist so what other kind of mineral would he pick? Don't you love that? akadangreen asked him how much lead was exported from the US every year!!!!

He looked at me because he had no idea what that even meant. So we talked about what an export was. And then we on a hunt. We tried a bunch of keywords...and pretty soon we had a group of 10 kids standing around trying to thing of synonyms we could use to find data on how much lead the US exports in any year.

Eventually we found it at the USGS...of course students said. We downloaded an insane .pdf chart detailing the export #s for every mineral in the whole US and we followed the list down to lead where we found the 2009 #. (One of the kids asked me if everything was answered at either USGS or NASA or NOAA!!! I guess that tells you a lot about our classroom.) Here's what Nick wrote and posted on the blog about what he did with the number....

In 2009 the US actually produced 82,000 metric tons. This equals 180,800,000 pounds. How I got that answer is 1.808 multiplied by 10 to the eighth power. Your answer from that is the amount of pounds. The computer told me 10^8, then the calculator made it into 180,800,000.

Sources: WolframAlpha.com

The USGS only had metric ton info. That meant we had to have a discussion about the kinds of tons. Which then meant we had to change the metric tons into pounds.

Jokingly I asked him if he could do that conversion. His eyes sort of popped out and then I told him I had no idea how to do it either. But I knew a place that could help us. Wolfram. Oh yeah he said,we've used that before. So off to Wolfram we went where he typed in "How many pounds is 82,000 metric tons?" which came back with

Immediately he whips out a calculator to find out what that looks like. And is able to come up with 180,800,000. I think he was super pleased with himself and actually looked forward to going home and posting this answer to akadangreen.

What a fun couple of days where kids have learned so much about minerals PLUS about a million other things. Who would have thought the ensuing conversation---with all the questions back and forth would keep them wondering, asking and answering.

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