Mooncake Modeling

Happy Harvest Moon Celebration?
Look outside tonight! Do you see a huge full moon? Harvest Moon Festival (also known as Mid-Autumn Festival) is one of the most important festivals celebrated in East and Southeast Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  It’s time to feast and then feast some more on South Korea’s Harvest Moon Festival, also known as Chuseok. It falls on the 15th day of the eighth month on the Lunar Calendar which happens to be today September 10th in the Gregorian solar calendar. Learn more about the history of the holiday- 

Why is the Moon so special in the Asian Culture?

The moon is important to the Asian culture because it represents light and wholeness, it helped farmers with timing their harvest, and seafarers use knowledge of the moon and tides for safe navigation.

Problem Posing

This math happening was inspired by my friend Brett Terrell, Danielle Hoffmeister and Susan Call who noted that their students celebrated Lunar New Years in the Winter and Fall Harvest Moon Festivals.  They learned about the significance of the Moon connecting Science and cultural histories and decided to celebrate by making Mooncakes. 

They found a recipe (see below)

    • What do you wonder about?
    • From the list of wonders, how can we use math to make a decision? How can math serve our needs?            
    • What do you notice? What do you wonder?
    • What is interesting or important about this situation?
    • Who cares about this situation?
    • What other information do you need?  Are there important quantities?

      This recipe only serves 6 servings… That’s not enough!

Making Assumptions and Considering the Variables

Sample Prompt:  

Gathering Information

    • If I knew______, then I could figure out_______
    • Let’s assume__________.
    • What assumptions can we make around the problem to simplify the problem posed?
  • Here is some ideas generated by third grade students.



Solving- Doing the Mathematics/Building a model

Sample Prompt:  

  • What math do you know that can help you solve the problem?
  • What are some common misconceptions that could arise at this stage, and how can they be addressed?
Sample Prompt:  

  • How might we use our solution to other similar problems?
  • Can this solution help us with other problems?

 Is there a model/formula that I can reuse or share with others?



Analyzing and revising the model

Sample Prompt:  

  • How might we become even more precise with our model?
  • How might our model change if we changed some of our previous assumptions?

Reporting out- Sharing & Connecting Real world Math to school math

Sample Prompt:  

  • How does all the math we used in this problem relate to what we covering as math topics this year?
  • Can you identify all the math and strategies we used to tackle this problem?