Making a Nation Using Math

Scripture: Genesis 15-17

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of Abraham, God’s Promises and Ishmael.
  • Students will learn God promised Abraham he would have more descendants than the stars in the sky.
  • Students will learn how to use multiplication to account for a growing population.
  • Students will participate in an activity to practice using multiplication to show how over time one thing can become many, many things.

Guiding Question: How can we take one or two things and using multiplication end up with a number much, much larger than the original one?

Materials: grains of rice or other inexpensive small item, construction paper, glue

Procedure: Review the story of Abraham, God’s promises to him and Hagar and Ishmael. Explain to students one of God’s promises to Abraham was that Abraham would have more descendants than there are stars in the sky. Introduce students to the idea of multiplication in an increase of population of items or people. Have the students glue two grains of rice to the top of their paper. These can represent Abraham and Hagar (or Sarah) or any two people. Ask the students to imagine they had one child who got married and then had two children. How many children would there be? What if each of those two children got married and had three children or four?

Have the students create different size families between generations (the same size within a generation unless they are very advanced in math). How long does it take to get to one hundred people in a generation? One thousand people? At some point the numbers may get large enough that it is easier to abandon the grains of rice and do the problems on paper. Call out different multiplication problems to represent the generations (Ex: What if each of those eight children then got married and had three children/ How many children would be in that generation.) If students are comfortable with the concept, they can divide into pairs and continue to challenge each other with new problems.

Additional Questions:

  • Can you use multiplication to find out how many items a factory will produce if each worker produces the same number of goods in a day, but the number of workers increase or decreases?

Supplemental Activity: Have more advanced students experiment with using multiplication to solve other real world problems like factory output.

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