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Math in the News: 6/27/11 June 27, 2011

Posted by Edward Deleon in : geometry, math, media , add a comment

In the current issue of Math in the News we explore the technology of fracking for oil. While not a new technology, it is getting more usage, and more attention these days.

In order for students to get a grasp of the magnitude of effort involved in drilling for oil, we start with the formula for the volume of a cylinder, which is what an oil well essentially consists of.

Given specific measurements for the depth and width of a bore hole, students can calculate the volume.

Next, we have students calculate the mass of the material. This involves indirect measurement. Using the formula for density, students can calculate the mass of material.

Finally, we have students determine the amount of energy needed to create the bore hole. Using the physics formula for work, and building off the calculations for volume and mass, students are able to determine the vast amount of energy needed to drill this hole.

Thus, we get to the notion that drilling for oil is itself a labor-intensive and therefore expensive operation. And we get to the idea that fracking, which involves drilling a horizontal hole is an attempt to reach rich deposits of natural gas.

We bring up some of the environmental concerns about this technology and we have students work in groups to think critically and creatively to make a list of recommendations about this technology.

A quantitative analysis of this technology allows students to get a better, more objective understanding. We avoid any journalistic sensationalism in getting to a basic understanding of events.

In this way, math can be a very effective tool for students to cut through the clutter of noise that constantly bombards them.
Update: We reproduce it here as a Slideshare presentation.

Dealing with “Controversial” Data June 23, 2011

Posted by Edward Deleon in : Uncategorized , add a comment

In a recent issue of Math in the News (5/30/11), we looked at data having to do with the sale and taxation of cigarettes. This is a rich data set and offers an opportunity for cross-curricular critical thinking.

You will rarely find such topics in traditional math textbooks and even some technology-based math curricula, but these are exactly the kinds of meaningful data sets that have relevance for students. The math covered is relevant for algebra and statistics:

But the equally meaningful part of this data analysis involves looking at the effect of taxation on:

In particular, students are encouraged to look at the benefits and potential pitfall to higher taxation of cigarettes:

Many of the non-mathematical issues may seem to detract from the underlying math concepts, but there is a bigger issue. It is important to approach data-based, socially relevant issues with some quantitative reasoning. Looking at the list of issues around the taxation of cigarettes, anyone can have an opinion on these items. But imagine how much more reasoned an analysis can be of these issues when it is informed by a quantitative approach.

Students need to engage quantitatively with social issues, allowing critical analysis to inform opinion.

Update: We reproduce it here as a Slideshare presentation:

The Floods Along the Mississippi June 22, 2011

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In a previous issue of Math in the News, we investigated the floods along the Mississippi River.

We developed a 3D model for the flood waters, using a rectangular prism. The prism above the non-flood height of the river is the amount of flood water.

But, we also need to take into account the movement of the river. So, taking the speed of the river into account creates a longer, virtual prism.

We end up with a family of functions that take into account the number of inches of flooding (a) and the number of days of flooding (x).

Students can graph these functions on a graphing calculator to measure different volumes. The full PowerPoint presentation goes through the derivation of this mathematical model.

Update: We reproduce it here as a SlideShare presentation.

Are you new to the TI-Nspire? June 21, 2011

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Over the past three years, TI has released different versions of the TI-Nspire. The original Clickpad version was followed by the Touchpad version last year. This year brings the CX model, with its introduction of color and 3D capabilities.

Where are you in this evolution of the Nspire? Do you still have the Clickpad? Have you moved to the Touchpad? Are you migrating to the CX?

We have a number of what we call TI-Nspire Mini-Tutorials that support the use of the pre-CX models.

To access these resource on Media4Math+, follow these steps:

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You’ll see the complete set of TI-Nspire Resources available.

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We include the following types of resources:

We support all the TI-Nspire models:

Math in the News: 6/20/11 June 20, 2011

Posted by Edward Deleon in : math, media , add a comment

In our latest issue of Math in the News, we look at the prospect of an NFL strike. This is a timely issue, since the start of the NFL season is a few months away. We’ve recently heard that players and owners are getting closer to a Collective Bargaining Agreement, but so far no deal has been struck.

The issues center around player salaries, NFL revenue shares, and other aspects of the business side of the NFL. This presents a great opportunity to delve into some real-word data analysis.

Our Math in the News features are downloadable PowerPoint presentations, which you can incorporate into your math instruction. The current issue covers these topics:

The topic of extrapolation is interesting as it relates to the NFL. For the most part NFL teams are privately held companies, so public information about revenue and expenses is difficult (if not impossible) to obtain. However, there is one team that is publicly held: The Green Bay Packers. Analyzing their income statements provides a great way to analyze a particular data set for one team and attempt to extrapolate those results to the other 31 teams.

Once the final Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, we will update this issue with the newest breakdown and compare it to the previous CBA.

Update: We reproduce it here as a Slideshare presentation.

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