Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Slide Rule Followup

Slide Rule, Slider, ScaleIt was quite an adventure for both myself and the class.  Talk about confusion and frustration!  I've never used one and the video we used was great for the first couple of things but then we got totally lost. 

In case you missed the entry, my Algebra II class made slide rules this past Monday out of paper. I had them use tape over the paper to make it stiffer.  The implement worked much better this way.

Yesterday was the day we tried to learn to use them.  Multiplying by two was easy but it got harder when we tried 7 x 3.  We got sort of lost and when we tried 455 x 615, we were so lost, I'm not sure we could have found our way back to where we started.

One of my students complained it was too hard which meant she didn't understand what to do while another  got so frustrated, he threw it on the floor and slept.

Fortunately, there was a retired geologist visiting whose father taught him to use a slide rule so he was willing to help us.  It was great, once we understood we had to align the number one to the first number, count over the other number and read the answer.  It was illuminating because we could suddenly do it.

At the same time, we talked about trying to do serious calculations using this slide rule.  They shook their heads in awe because they couldn't perceive a world without the fancy calculators they use now. I pointed out the women who did the calculations that resulted in sending the man to the moon.

It is so mind blowing.  I read somewhere that the engineers had the women check the computer results because the computer was so new, they weren't sure about its accuracy.  Next week, we'll watch the movie Hidden Figures to learn more about this. 

I'm hoping the movie will show one student what it all has to do with math.  I enjoyed learning to use a slide rule. Its not something I"ll use regularly but I can teach it again next year in conjunction with the movie and showing how important math is.

Let me what you think.  I love learning new skills and this is one, I'll have to practice.  Have a good day.