How can objects be sorted?

How can objects be sorted?

Sorting things into categories is the first step in understanding nature. To sort items, you need to carefully observe them. This often leads to new insights into nature.

How do we sort? First we identify common properties like color, size or weight. Based on these properties we create categories for the objects to be sorted. To be placed into a category, all items will have the same criteria, or characteristics. Finally, we group the items based upon these traits into the categories.

For example, Ted and Barkley sorted the apples for the purpose of selling them. They first picked the property of size and separated the apples based upon which were small and large. This was a simple choice, but perhaps not the best when considering eating the apples. Next Barkley and Ted decided to sort the apples by color. Through experience, Ted knew that he didn’t want to eat brown apples. Sorting the apples into red and brown piles helped them see how many apples might be tasty or not. This is an example of how scientists refine their sorting to produce better results. This leads to a better understanding of nature.

A good example of sorting in the physical world is sorting matter. You can identify if something is a solid, liquid, or gas. On Earth, some materials can be found in more than one state of matter. To understand our Universe, astronomers sort stars into various types and study the life of stars. Biologists understand animals and plants better by observing, sorting and classifying them. Classifying the common traits of animals has led to an understanding of how animals may have changed over time.

How can objects be sorted?

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards:

Algebra: Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other representational systems

This activity helps students identify and sort materials for different acitivities.

Activity – It Goes Where?

miscellaneous sports equipment, miscellaneous classroom items, miscellaneous items used for lunch, three large boxes or buckets

Pre-Lesson Instructions:

1. Prior to this activity, collect the following. These items will be used for sorting. Place the items in a large box or area in the classroom.
* Different sports equipment (football, soccer ball, pads, shoes, baseball, bats, helmets, etc.)
* Plastic play food, empty food boxes or cans, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc., that could be used during lunch
* Find a variety of items used in the classroom (pencils, crayons, paper, scissors, etc.).
2. Label each large box or bucket with one of the following.
* Classroom
* Lunch
* Sports
3. Divide the class into three groups.

1. Review the idea of sorting by watching the video newsbreak “How can objects be sorted?”
2. Discuss times and situations when students have sorted items. What criteria have they used to sort these things? Why was sorting necessary?
3. Explain that the boxes/buckets represent containers for sorting. Each container will be stocked with items for a particular job and each group will be stocking its own container.
4. Assign each group to a different container.
5. Explain that the group must work together to sort all of the items from the miscellaneous box that would be used in their group’s container.
6. Allow the class three minutes to complete this activity.
7. Ask the groups to show each item and explain why they picked it for their box.
8. Are there items that could fit in multiple boxes? Why?

Have the students draw a picture of a specific room from home, labeling each item in the room. Share the drawing, and discuss how different rooms have different items depending on the purpose of the room. Extend this thought to a grocery store or department store. How is sorting used to organize these stores? Why is it important for stores to be organized.

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