Thursday, May 14, 2015

Real life uses of math

Catapult, Wheels, Fire, Ball, SlingThis school year is almost over.  The time to start planning for next year is now.  I got the bright idea while watching MythBuster of watching an episode and have the kids research the necessary math and science needed to do what the hosts of the show do.

Harbor, Ship, Sea, Mast, Water, PirateThey show the hosts making things but the actual math is done off screen.  What if they had to calculate the thrust of fire works, or a air gun.  What if they had to find out how many watts a mirror needs to make to set fire to a ship?

What about finding out the density between a frozen chicken and a thawed chicken?  How much thrust does a cannon use when you put a 6 oz charge of black powder in?

Then there is the idea of starting to show an episode and stop it just after they introduce the myth.  The students could make a prediction of will it prove true, plausible, or busted?  They could work out what factors or variables do they have to think about.
Ball, Circle, Fire, Flame, Gradient
We watched one today in which the mythbusters checked out something from the show CSI to see if it worked.  The idea was the spark from a stun gun could cause pepper spray to ignite and burn someone up.

Beakers, Experiment, Flasks, ResearchThis episode is great for showing the steps in isolating variables and following scientific method. I want to use this to show students how mathematicians can also follow this process to help us find the math.

I want to plan activities to do with that episode over the summer.  It would show the process everyone goes through and it would encourage them to do independent research. 

The first week of school is very short and this would be a great activity to include before the actual work for the classes start and get them familiar with how to do mathematical research.