Mathematics and Measurement

Mathematics - Grade 10

This unit of inquiry is not a recipe book but rather a launchpad to inspire new BIG IDEAS. We encourage you to use and/or modify one, or several of the BIG IDEAS below. Adapt it to the grade/ ability level of your students.


Enduring Understanding

Mathematics is a key tool in the understanding of environmental impact and costs of human action.


Guiding Questions

How does learning mathematics helps us understand the world and act responsibly as a global citizen?


Mind Opening

Choose or devise practices to encourage students to be open to new experiences and ways of thinking in your classroom. For example, the MindUP in-school program.


Discovery and Inspiration:

Launch the Project

Introduce the Theme: Present the Enduring Understanding and Guiding Questions using vocabulary that is appropriate for your grade level.

About Vancouver Biennale: Play a short video.

Create Project Space: Brainstorm ideas to make the project theme visual and visible using bulletin boards, and/or a project corner to share relevant materials and inquiry questions and processes.

Reference Resources:

  Introduction to Sculpture and Public Art Unit Plan for information on how art has evolved over time and the unique experience sculptures and/or public art brings

Vancouver Biennale 2014-2016 Exhibition Theme:  Open Borders / Crossroads Vancouver

•  Freezing Water #7  and Water #10 (Ren Jun, China) of Vancouver Biennale 2009 – 2011 Exhibition.

•  About Artist and Artwork (PDF)


Other Resources

Leaky Faucet by Dan Meyer

My View H2O , Video Contest Grand Prize Winner by Muhammad Zulqamar

Global Water Forum


Learning to Learn:

Art Inquiry

View  Freezing Water #7  online or visit  Water #10 and encourage students to explore the art piece at different angles individually and in groups. This Art Inquiry process enables the students to practice observing, describing, interpreting, and sharing visual information and personal experiences. Use the Art Inquiry Worksheet (PDF) to guide and capture their ideas and impressions. Customize or create your own Art Inquiry Worksheet as appropriate for your project and class needs.


Shared Insights

• Sharing Art Inquiry Experience: Ask students to share the Art Inquiry Worksheet responses in class.

Artist Themes – Research: In small groups students rotate between information stations detailing the artist’s life and work. Station topics include: (1) education and training; (2) lifetime of artwork; (2) materials and processes; (3) beliefs and values. At each station, students answer questions and complete a task. For example, at the station “life’s work” students might plot the artist’s various installations on a map of the world.

• Artist Theme – Usage: Ask students to research water usage in China where the artist, Ren Jun resides and make comparison to Canada. Calculate/estimate and compare household usage in the two countries and discuss what may the reasons for the difference in usage.

• Water Distribution System: How is water collected, stored and distributed? Share insights on correlating the capacity of local water storage facilities such as the Capilano Reservoir, the size and location of its customer base and the distribution system put in place such as the length of supply lines or other means of transportation.


Inquiry Challenges

Leaky Faucet Challenge: The challenge is an investigation of how long will it take to fill up a sink if the faucet is leaking. Working in small groups, students are to step through Dan Meyer’s Three-Act Leaky Faucet. Download the videos from Leaky Faucet by Dan Meyer

Guess: Watch Act One: the faucet leaking, each student is to enter two guesses on how long it will take to fill up the sink on a shared spreadsheet. The estimates are to cover the high and the low ends. Plot a graph using the class data to show the range of values.

Long Term Cost: Do you think it is expensive to have a dripping faucet? Do you believe it is important for people to fix dripping faucets? Why or why not?

Solution: Students are to discuss with partners the information required to create a linear equation in slope point form to answer the question. The teacher will provide the information to the students so they can proceed to create a linear equation to represent the situation, convert it to slope intercept form, graph it and give a solution to the problem.

Suggested Questions for a Student Worksheet: How long will it take the sink to fill up if there is no water in it?

  • Slope
  • Point
  • Equation in Slope-Point Form
  • Equation in Slope-Intercept Form
  • Equation in General Form
  • Calculation

Variation: How long will it take the sink to fill up if it already had 200 mL of water in it?

Compare the two linear equations. What is similar, what is different?

Discuss how many litres of fresh water will be wasted in a year? Do you believe it is important for all homes and business to fix dripping faucets? Will it make a large impact on water conservation? Use data and calculations to support your answer.

School: Assign different parts of schools to groups to locate leaky faucets and predict the amount of wasted water per day/week/month/year.

Global View: After gathering data on a school/home level, discuss if it is possible to estimate the impact of leaky faucets on a global scale. How much water is wasted due to leaky faucet conditions throughout the world? State and discuss the assumptions and what is the estimate based on.

Additional Challenge: Find one interesting fact (statistic) about water conservation to share with the class.

Compare the calculated answer with the original estimate and class graph. Reflect on the difference.


Sample Creations and Taking Action

Students can create posters to raise awareness on water conservation within their school: running water fountains, bottled water, running toilets or urinals, leaky faucets.

Student should be encouraged to find out if there are any student water conservation initiatives already in place at the school. If so, students can join the team. Otherwise students can initiate a water conservation action plan at home, for the school (Save Water Month) and contact local government for ideas of how to raise community awareness on the real cost of not fixing leaky faucets/toilets/garden hoses. A follow up from the inquiry challenge is a school-wide Fix the Leaky Faucets project.



• Teacher and students can reflect on their entire learning process by revisiting the Enduring Understanding and relevant Guiding Questions.

• How did the unit of study open inquiry, create cross–curricular learning opportunities and/or apply learning to real life situations? Has this unit of inquiry changed your opinions, values and world view? In what ways, if any, has it helped you grow as a learner?


Ideas for Cross-Curricular Access

•  Arts Education – Media: Create videos/animation with the objectives to raise awareness of the value of water as a critical resource, include a message to correct the global water leakage situations.

•  Science – Sustainability of Ecosystems: Have students research and inquire into water as a critical resource of our ecosystems. What scientific breakthroughs are related to the study of water contamination (bacteria, diseases, salinity of farmland).

•  Social Studies – Economy and Technology: Have students research and inquire into how water was collected, stored and during the period of study (1815 to 1914). Compare and contrast with today. What problems with water contamination were prevalent during the period of study and how does this compare with the issues of water contamination we face today.


Inspired by Grade 10 mathematics project by Kelly Skehill, Mathematics Teacher at West Vancouver Secondary School.

Reviewed by Rosalind Poon, Teacher Consultant, Richmond School District.

©2013 Vancouver Biennale