Have you ever used a ruler to measure a snafoose?
I’ve never, never-ever, tried to measure a snafoose.
Certainly not on a goose.
Or near a boar on the loose.
No, I never tried to measure a snafoose.
But I have used a ruler, why, I have used it a lot!
I have used it to find the distance between this point and thot!
Between two and three,
or three and eight, as I was toght,
to find the distance between four-thirty-three-point-four and two-point-two to the naught.
I’ve measured here and there, in good days and bad,
measuring always had a way of making me feel glad.
I’ve measured while eating,
I’ve measured while preening,
why I’ve even measured while dancing the twirl-e-bop-de-careening.
And here’s what I’ve learned, if you permit me to spin:
the distance between naught and three is just three again.
Now it seems almost like—like you get that for free,
so maybe it should be no surprise:
it is also the same to the negation of three!
Absolute value does not need to be an absolute bore,
It just comes from measuring, measuring and measuring some more.
And when it’s finally brought up, in algebra, with letters,
kids who’ve spent time with rulers,
will best even those…who should know better.
— Scott Baldridge, 2007
I wrote this silly little poem in 2007. (I can safely claim to be a non-poet.) I stumbled across it in an email recently looking for another email and thought I would share it. Note that even then, years before there was anything called “Common Core,” I was advocating that elementary students use rulers, protractors, beakers, weighing scales, etc. to build an intuitive understanding of units. At the time I wrote this little poem, I did not realize that a few short years later I would be writing an entire curriculum, A Story of Units, based upon manipulating units.
(Check back later for a picture of a Snafoose that Autumn is designing!)
CHANNEL: Growing up with Eureka
© 2015 Autumn Baldridge and Scott Baldridge
Partially supported by NSF CAREER grant DMS-0748636