MAVEN arrives at Mars

Recently the MAVEN spacecraft (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) that was launched on November  18, 2013 reached Mars and attained an elongated orbit around the planet.  How does someone figure out how to do that?

Steepness and Fall hiking

 Mt. Washington, NH

Fall is a beautiful time of year for hiking. Many students will be walking in the woods and mountains to enjoy the colorful leaves and the cool weather outside.  Let them combine what they are doing with their families and friends with a little mathematics about percent grade change.  Why are there warnings about a 6% road grade change ahead?  Why does everyone talk about the vertical gain on a trail that is only 3 miles long?  Enjoy using slope and the Pythagorean Theorem in a new way.

iPhone 6 opening weekend


long wait for iPhone 6


Headline of NYTimes technology section on September 22, 2014

Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 6, is out.  The opening weekend was full of long lines, waits and sold out stores.  With all of this hoopla, could the iPhone 6 outsell the 9 million iPhone 5s/5c’s that were sold during their opening weekend in 2013?  In this activity kids explore past iPhone launch sales data and predict how many iPhone 6’s were sold during the opening weekend in 2014.  Younger students can investigate the data through a bar graph, while older students can use a scatter plot and even use equations to model sales growth.  Technology: Students can model the data with linear, quadratic or exponential models at this interactive Desmos graphing activity, the data and sliders are all set to go.  Let your students rough out their models & predictions as they work through the activity.

Ebola updated

EbolaMap-by-Mikael Häggström

Ebola has continued to gain strength and devastate regions of West Africa.  WHO (World Health Organization) updates their data frequently and the progress and lack of control of the epidemic is very concerning.

We’ve gathered the present numbers again for you and your class to study, analyze, and look for trends, hope, suggestions, and conclusions.

Never-ending pasta


On September 8, 2014, Olive Garden offered a $100 pass for never-ending pasta and Coca Cola soft drinks.  The 1,000 patrons who quickly bought up the passes will be entitled to as much pasta as they like (with toppings) from Sept. 22 to Nov. 9. The pasta pass sold out in 45 minutes.  Consider starting out the activity with the video at the bottom of this post.  Then ask the class to consider these questions.

  • Is this a good deal for patrons?  What are the pros and cons?
  • Will Olive Garden go broke?
  • Is this good for the restaurant chain?
  • Is the pass priced correctly?  If not how much should it cost?
  • How should we start answering these questions?  What information would be useful?

Cell phone plans


Its time to go get the latest iPhone.  Which of the above plans will you choose?  Should you sign a 2-year contract on one of the above plans to get the iPhone for $200?  Or should you go through T-Mobile, pay $648 for the phone and $60 a month for 3 GB of data?

This lesson makes a great intro to linear relationships.  Student pick one plan and consider the cost of the phone and plan over time.  They make tables, graphs and equations.  Consider allowing students to begin playing with the task without much initial direct instruction.  Guide them with good questioning and teach after they have had time to grapple with these questions and construct new ideas.