Thanks to Lisa Bejarno for the great project idea.


This year I upped my game teaching constructions. If I'm honest with myself, I changed less based on student performance and more because I was bored with how I taught the topic. Here's the results of the intro project. Of the 50 students who turned in posters, these were the ones I want to show to students as examples for next yearrepresentatives of two camps: the good and the "needs improvement". I think it's pretty obvious which is which. Thanks to Lisa Bejarno for the great project idea.
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Okay, here's an example where "real life" math needs a little help. I was thinking about a problem I assigned last year during track season. I really really like the problem (adapted from emaths). The task: Fielding Nair International (FNI), the company renovating our school, is also contracted to build new tracks at several of the Boulder Valley area schools. BVSD wants FNI to plan and construct new tracks that meets the criteria of the NCAA. The track will consist of two straight sections and two semicircle curves. Although FNI’s blueprints contain the dimensions of the track, they are still in need of assistance on some crucial aspects of the track design. I've got a bigger picture of the track at the end of this post.
I don't know if you can see the numbers in the picture very wellthey're not regulation track size. The straightaways are 100 meters each and the straight extensions past the curve are 45m. Definitely not regulation. The whole time, I'm not kidding herethe ENTIRE time we do this problem students ask me whether these are the real track dimensions. I don't know what to say. Do I just lie to them? Do I tell them we're doing a problem similar to the one the builders will do just with easier numbers? Here's the real difficulty for me. Kids struggled with this. They persevered. They figured out how to use trig and sections of circles in order to not have any overlap when figuring out the track surface area. I. Love. It. After finishing, the students were happy the numbers were easier. But during the process, they wanted the work to mean something. Would the problem work better if I went completely "real world" or do I leave it in its current "sudo real world" state?

Andrew Busch
I teach Math at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada, CO. Categories
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March 2019
