In this engineering, math, and sustainability project students answer the question, “Can I ride 53 miles on a bike from the energy of a single burrito?” They must define their variables, collect and analyze their data, and present their results. By the end of this project, developed by Allen Distinguished Educator Mike Wierusz, students should have all the information they need to design a burrito that would provide them with the exact caloric content necessary to ride 53 miles.
Students design, build and test model roller coasters using foam tubing. The design process integrates energy concepts as they test and evaluate designs that address the task as an engineer would. The goal is for students to understand the basics of engineering design associated with kinetic and potential energy to build an optimal roller coaster. The marble starts with potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy as it moves along the track. The diameter of the loops that the marble traverses without falling out depends on the kinetic energy obtained by the marble.
Students groups act as aerospace engineering teams competing to create linear equations to guide space shuttles safely through obstacles generated by a modeling game in level-based rounds. Each round provides a different configuration of the obstacle, which consists of two "gates." The obstacles are presented as asteroids or comets, and the linear equations as inputs into autopilot on board the shuttle. The winning group is the one that first generates the successful equations for all levels. The game is created via the programming software MATLAB, available as a free 30-day trial. The activity helps students make the connection between graphs and the real world. In this activity, they can see the path of a space shuttle modeled by a linear equation, as if they were looking from above.
Students redesign and justify the packaging used in consumer products. Design criteria include reducing the amount of packaging material by 25%.
In earlier grades, students define, evaluate, and compare functions and use them to model relationships between quantities. In this module, students extend their study of functions to include function notation and the concepts of domain and range. They explore many examples of functions and their graphs, focusing on the contrast between linear and exponential functions. They interpret functions given graphically, numerically, symbolically, and verbally; translate between representations; and understand the limitations of various representations.
This task provides a simple but interesting and realistic context in which students are led to set up a rational equation (and a rational inequality) in one variable, and then solve that equation/inequality for an unknown variable.
In earlier modules, students analyze the process of solving equations and developing fluency in writing, interpreting, and translating between various forms of linear equations (Module 1) and linear and exponential functions (Module 3). These experiences combined with modeling with data (Module 2), set the stage for Module 4. Here students continue to interpret expressions, create equations, rewrite equations and functions in different but equivalent forms, and graph and interpret functions, but this time using polynomial functions, and more specifically quadratic functions, as well as square root and cube root functions.
This lesson unit is intended to help teachers assess how well students are able to use geometric properties to solve problems. In particular, it will help you identify and help students who have difficulty: decomposing complex shapes into simpler ones in order to solve a problem; bringing together several geometric concepts to solve a problem; and finding the relationship between radii of inscribed and circumscribed circles of right triangles.
This simple conceptual task focuses on what it means for a number to be a solution to an equation, rather than on the process of solving equations.
Students learn the concept of angular momentum and its correlation to mass, velocity and radius. They experiment with rotation and an object's mass distribution. In an associated literacy activity, students use basic methods of comparative mythology to consider why spinning and weaving are common motifs in creation myths and folktales.
This task presents a simple but mathematically interesting game whose solution is a challenging exercise in creating and reasoning with algebraic inequalities. The core of the task involves converting a verbal statement into a mathematical inequality in a context in which the inequality is not obviously presented, and then repeatedly using the inequality to deduce information about the structure of the game.
Explore what it means for a mathematical statement to be balanced or unbalanced by interacting with objects on a balance. Discover the rules for keeping it balanced. Collect stars by playing the game!
In this module, students synthesize and generalize what they have learned about a variety of function families. They extend the domain of exponential functions to the entire real line (N-RN.A.1) and then extend their work with these functions to include solving exponential equations with logarithms (F-LE.A.4). They explore (with appropriate tools) the effects of transformations on graphs of exponential and logarithmic functions. They notice that the transformations on a graph of a logarithmic function relate to the logarithmic properties (F-BF.B.3). Students identify appropriate types of functions to model a situation. They adjust parameters to improve the model, and they compare models by analyzing appropriateness of fit and making judgments about the domain over which a model is a good fit. The description of modeling as, the process of choosing and using mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, to understand them better, and to make decisions, is at the heart of this module. In particular, through repeated opportunities in working through the modeling cycle (see page 61 of the CCLS), students acquire the insight that the same mathematical or statistical structure can sometimes model seemingly different situations.
The given solutions for this task involve the creation and solving of a system of two equations and two unknowns, with the caveat that the context of the problem implies that we are interested only in non-negative integer solutions. Indeed, in the first solution, we must also restrict our attention to the case that one of the variables is further even.
This lesson unit is intended to help teachers assess how well students are able to: interpret a situation and represent the constraints and variables mathematically; select appropriate mathematical methods to use; explore the effects of systematically varying the constraints; interpret and evaluate the data generated and identify the optimum case, checking it for confirmation; and communicate their reasoning clearly.
Although this task is quite straightforward, it has a couple of aspects designed to encourage students to attend to the structure of the equation and the meaning of the variables in it. It fosters flexibility in seeing the same equation in two different ways, and it requires students to attend to the meaning of the variables in the preamble and extract the values from the descriptions.
This is a simple exercise in creating equations from a situation with many variables. By giving three different scenarios, the problem requires students to keep going back to the definitions of the variables, thus emphasizing the importance of defining variables when you write an equation. In order to reinforce this aspect of the problem, the variables have not been given names that remind the student of what they stand for. The emphasis here is on setting up equations, not solving them.
Using a household fan, cardboard box and paper towels, student teams design and build their own evaporative cooler prototype devices. They learn about the process that cools water during the evaporation of water. They make calculations to determine a room's cooling load, and thus determine the swamp cooler size. This activity adds to students' understanding of the behind-the-scenes mechanical devices that condition and move air within homes and buildings for human health and comfort.