Saturday, March 5, 2016

Orienteering, Etc and Vectors

Map, Helmet, Safari, Expedition, Africa  I wanted to find more hands on activities for my students so when I teach vectors they don't have to only use the book or worksheets.  I want them to experience a chance to experience vectors personally.  So as a continuation to yesterdays blog, I've found a few more activities that sound fun.

1.  Orienteering with vectors.  This is a lovely exercise where students orienteer around the school, keeping track of distance and direction, so they can create a scale model of their path.  This activity helps teach resultant vector.  The lesson plan gives enough information so you can set up such a course in your school.

2. Navigational Vectors is a site with 8 piloting lessons based on vectors.  These are called piloting lessons designed to help students navigate the skies.  The first lesson introduces vectors by having the student calculate the distance between their town and the state capital.  It covers displacement, reading maps, determining vectors and scalars in real situations.  Each lesson teaches more about vectors including taking into account wind and finding the arrival time.  At the end, a student can take the "Pilot Test Flight" which has the students use all their knowledge to complete this activity.

Although the lessons are just directions, they are clear and each lesson has students completing an activity that practices the application of what they are learning.  In addition, the starting point is the student's home state and it assumes there is an airport in the town so the student can do the work.  Every thing is clear and laid out in steps.

3. As a way to introduce vector addition, Mythbusters has two different videos that show a great introduction to vectors.  In addition, this video shows a truck speeding down the road with a ball being fired out the back to show vector addition.   Either of these would provide a great introduction to the topic.

4.  What about using vectors to create a dance?  At Teach Mathematics, there is a very short description talking about using vectors to show the choreography of a dance.  Imagine giving your students (the more artistic ones) a chance to use vectors to create a dance that could be performed by a small group of people as a the product for a project? 

5. Finally what about relating vectors to the game "Angry Birds"?
a. This  video that introduces vectors and scalars using angry birds before beginning the lecture.  Its short but great.
b. This PDF of an article at Mathematic Shed relates parabolas and vectors to angry birds in a fun way with precise examples. 

The last example could also be used when teaching parabolas.  I'm getting ready to teach factoring to Algebra II and  I think I'll sneak this material in there, just before I begin vectors so that I'll have a nice topic to use to tie the two topics together.