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        Introduction to Negative Numbers

        Students are introduced to the concept of negative numbers through simple equations and the use of a number line that is extended beyond zero in the negative (left) direction.

        Lesson Summary


        This Cyberchase activity first addresses a common misconception: starting measurement from 1 instead of 0. Then, it introduces negative numbers by extending a number line beyond 0 in the negative (left) direction. It is motivated by the CyberSquad's mission to find the captured Cyberchase Council on a particular floor of a tall building.

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        1 hour

        Media Resources

        Importance of the Origin QuickTime Video
        Inventing Negative Numbers QuickTime Video


        Handout: Elevator Number Line
        Asessment: Level A
        Assessment: Level B
        Answer Key

        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        1. Tell the students that they will watch a video, but before showing video clip 1, read them the following: "The CyberSquad is searching for the Cyberchase Council, who are being held captive by Hacker in a tall building. The doors to the stairs are locked and the elevator does not work. So they use a window washer elevator to get to the 18th floor, but they make 1 mistake. Can you find the mistake?"

        2. Show Importance of the Origin QuickTime Video (Note: Do not tell the students the title of the segment).

        3. Pause the clip when Digit, the Cyberbird, lands in a mud tub on the wrong floor.

        4. Ask the students if they saw the mistake, which involved starting their count at 1 instead of 0 for the ground floor, and have them explain the mistake.

        5. Play the remaining part of the video segment.

        6. Distribute the Handout: Elevator Number Line.

        7. Ask students to complete Part 1, in which they move up and down the external elevator according to MotherBoard's instructions.

        8. Tell the students that they will now watch another video segment from the same episode (Note: Do not mention the title of the sement to the students).

        9. Show Inventing Negative Numbers QuickTime Video.

        10. Discuss with the students their results for Part 1 of the handout, and compare their results with the results in the video segment.

        11. Ask the students to complete Part 2 of the handout, which asks them to compare number size involving negative numbers.

        Part II: Assessment

        Asessment: Level A (proficiency): Students are asked to complete simple change of directions problems using a number line, and to compare pairs of integers to indicate whether the first is less than or greater than the second number in each pair.

        Assessment: Level B (above proficiency): Students are asked to complete harder change of directions problems, and to compare pairs of larger integers to indicate whether the first is less than or greater than the second number in each pair.


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