Monday, April 24, 2017

Old Fashioned Technology

File:Vintage Small Slide Rule, 4.75 Inches in Length, Made in England (9610232930).jpg
By Joe Haupt from USA

I've been working my way through the book Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess.  It had so many questions leading to ideas that I've taken a few for use in my classroom.  My Algebra II class has been working with exponential functions, logs and natural logs recently so I thought we'd do something different.

For the warm-up, I sent the students to a web site which gave information on the real ladies featured in the movie "Hidden Figures" to give them a bit of background on how people worked equations before hand held calculators or computers.  I find it fascinating the engineers had the women check the computer calculations prior to the launch.

A short discussion followed this on how they ran the calculations use a slide rule instead.  Of course, I found a template on the internet so they could make their own.  After having them make it, I played a video to show them how to use the slide rule.

Did you know there is a slide rule museum with a virtual slide rule and instructions for doing math on it?  There is.  So I sent them there to read the instructions to figure out how to do more.  And its being finished off using the slide rule to actually solve a few problems.

You might wonder why I'm doing this?  Well, it gives them a bit of a history of math in terms of calculating machines used to send man to the moon, provides the history of real people who used it, and it gives them a lesson in the use of older technology.  No I don't know how to use a slide rule but I'll be learning along side them. 

When I got to college, calculators were used by almost everyone in class.  These were HP's and TI's but you could do everything on them, so who needed a slide rule.  I wanted to change up the routine a bit because students only have two days of instruction this week.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear back from people.