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Math in the News: 7/25/11 July 22, 2011

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

In our next issue of Math in the News, we investigate baseball stats, specifically we look at Derek Jeter’s recent accomplishment: joining the 3000+ hits club. His story is particularly interesting, since he is the first Yankee to do this. There were other Yankee players that eventually got to the 3000 plateau (e.g., Dave Winfield), but these weren’t Yankees at the time they reached 3000. In some ways, Jeter was lucky to be the first Yankee.

Jeter is only the second player in the 3000+ club to have hit a home run for his 3000th hit. Most members of the 3000+ club hit their 3000th hit as a single or double.

We investigate a number of data sets in different graph types. This activity would be great for back-to-school, as a way to review data analysis concepts.

UPDATE: We reproduce it here as a Slideshare presentation.

Math in the News: Week of 7/18/11 July 14, 2011

Posted by Edward Deleon in : Uncategorized , add a comment

In our next issue of Math in the News, we bid a fond farewell to the Space Shuttle, and in the process look at the mechanics of space travel. In particular we look at the motion involved in space flight and why parametric equations are ideal for describing this motion.

We go through several animations to really underscore the point that the motion of the shuttle at liftoff consists of a horizontal motion and a vertical motion. While this presentation of parametric equations is standard in physics classes and pre-calc math, we really take the time to explain where the sideways motion comes from.

Connecting this sideways motion to the rotational motion of the Earth spinning about its axis is not the easiest thing to do. You’ll have to deal with the common misconception that circular motion leads to a radial direction of speed, rather than one perpendicular to the radius of the circle. Once students understand the nature of circular motion, then they’ll have a much better understanding of the source of the sideways motion.

Once students can see that sideways and vertical motions of the shuttle are independent of each other, then parametric equations are a logical outcome. This is also a concept that student will have some difficulty with. We provide the animations to get this across, but you should also model this effect using a rubber ball. Show vertical motion only to reinforce that this motion is independent of sideways motion. Then show sideways motion by rolling the ball on a table; this motion is also independent. Finally, start juggling the ball from one hand to another and show that this is a combination of vertical horizontal motions, but that these motions retain their independence.

Once you have overcome the hurdles of (1) where the sideways motion comes from during a space shuttle launch and (2) that the horizontal and vertical components of motion are independent of each other, then parametric equations are an encapsulation of this phenomenon.

Math Solvers July 10, 2011

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

We’ve just added Math Solvers to our site, which, combined, with our Math Examples page, gives you some very effective instructional tools. With each Math Solver, you input the appropriate parameters. For example, here is the Math Solver for calculating the slope of the line connecting two points.

Input the values for the coordinates and press Calculate. Not only is the slope calculated, but a step-by-step solution is provided, giving you an opportunity to reteach the concept.

We currently have the following Math Solvers:

We will continually be adding new Math Solvers to the site, so keep coming back!

Math in the News: 7/4/11 July 3, 2011

Posted by Edward Deleon in : algebra, graphing calculators, math , add a comment

Planning on going to any movies this holiday weekend? Chances are, you probably are. And Hollywood is banking on that fact with the release of some their biggest-budget productions, among them Transformers, Cars 2, and others.

In the current issue of Math in the News, we look at data sets for different movies, in particular, weekend box office sales over time. It turns out that whether we are looking at the box office receipts for such blockbusters as Titanic and Dark Knight, or duds like Speed Racer, the resulting graphs have a characteristic shape.

We then graph various data sets for different movies and perform an exponential regression. We analyze the exponential graphs to look for characteristics.

The data sets are readily available from the Web site provided in the presentation. Performing regression analysis on these data sets is easily done with a graphing calculator. In fact, you can even have students explore different types of regression curves (quadratic, polynomial) and explore those results.

We then ask students to analyze a data set for a more recent movie, Rio. This provides an opportunity to apply what they have learned in analyzing the other data sets.

Update: We reproduce it here as a Slideshare presentation.

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