Unless you have been living under a rock, you might have noticed the latest trend among students: fidget spinners. Fidget spinners are “stress-relieving toys” for individuals who suffer from ADHD. These toys come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Fidget spinners are selling online, in malls, and on street corners. These toys have taken the world (and our classrooms) by storm.
Let’s be honest, though, the majority of students that are using fidget spinners do not suffer from ADHD. To them, it’s a fun toy that looks cool spinning and something to show off to their friends. Due to this, the fidget spinner has received mixed reviews in the educational community. Some educators have even gone as far as to ban these toys from their classrooms, sites, or even districts. Pretty intense, right? As educators, I feel like we have two choices: 1.) Close our minds and our classrooms to new trends and fads or 2.) Embrace the fad and find an educational purpose behind it.
For myself, I have decided to embrace the fad. Bring on the fidget spinners!
Fidget Spinners: A Measures of Central Tendency Activity
Objective: Students will build fidget spinners and use the measures of central tendency to compare the length of the spins.
Group: 3 – 4 students
Directions: Students will design and build fidget spinners. They will make assumptions about the slowest/fastest fidget spinners in their groups and conduct an experiment to gather data. Students will spin their fidget spinner five times each, record the data, and use the measures of central tendency to analyze the data. Students will analyze the data to determine the fastest fidget spinner, make claims about the data, and discuss ideas for future fidget spinner designs.
Click HERE for a link the activity.
A few ideas that worked:
- Building the fidget spinners was not as difficult as I imagined it might be. I showed some YouTube videos to the students, challenged them to find household items for supplies, and asked for donations from parents. The students had immediate buy-in, so they found all of their own supplies. The fidget spinners they developed were SO impressive and much better than anything I had attempted to create before I introduced this idea to them.
- The measures of central tendency was a good, starting topic for the fidget spinner activity. The students were familiar with the concept and could apply their knowledge of these math concepts in a hands-on, creative, and meaningful manner.
- Grouping the students allowed them to compare their fidget spinners which sparked great conversation among the students.
A few ideas for next time:
- 3D Printer! So many educators on Twitter had their students design their fidget spinners on a 3D printer. Although I have not used a 3D printer, it is a challenge I am giving myself for the next year.
- It would be beneficial to expand the math concepts in this lesson. For my students, they were very familiar with measures of central tendency, so I would like to find some material that could be more challenging to them. Geometry may be an excellent place to start.
- When I sent out the information about the project to parents, I was truly surprised at how interested the parents were in the project. My greatest regret is that I did not invite parents into our classroom to participate. It would have been a great way to show parents what is going on in our classrooms and increase communication and rapport.
Overall, I felt like this was the perfect end of the year project for my students. At the end of May, the students tend to be tired and burnt out from state testing. As educators, we must find a way to encourage them to continue learning. By finding their interests and creating educational opportunities around those interest, I believe that we can continue to engage our students at all times of the school year.
Tell me about how you have been using fidget spinners in your classroom in the comments below!
4 thoughts on “Fidget Spinners: Not Just a Toy”
Great blog post about an approach to fidget spinners that is positive for kids! I love the GIFs!
Thanks Tom! The activity was so much fun – for the students and me! I am loving Google Photos and the “create animation” feature. I’ve been going GIF crazy!
You’ve been an inspiration ever since we met at the London Acedemy, Meagan! Thank you! Will find a way to use this for my HS math classes in 2018 and keep you posted on my blog!
Thank you so much, Yijie! I really appreciate your kind words. 🙂 I hope all is going well with you and your project. I would love to hear about it sometime!