project handout and specifications for the write-up here.
I rationalized spending two and a half weeks on this by telling myself:
- My kids are learning a ton of math this year, most of which they'll probably forget anyway - so why not spend time delving deeper into a topic they enjoyed with the hopes that they might actually remember it?
- It's probably worth doing something fun and rejuvenating that might ward off the inevitable post-spring break Senioritis.
I did several projects last year as an 11th grade teacher, yet this was the first one the kids were somewhat excited about - and I'll admit, that felt rad. I think that the student choice element was key, as was the fact that my students are generally motivated and enjoy the class. Many students chose to return to a problem from a past challenge set, which was kind of cool. (My office mate commented that we try to get kids to work on these cool problems, and some of them get 'em and some don't, and then too often the problems just "die" and we never return to them.) You can browse through the challenge sets here.
There were two distinct pieces to this project: the write-up, and the exhibition product. I'll talk about the latter now, because it's easier. Basically, I got some really creative products. Some of my favorites were:
|A giant Tower of Hanoi game made of a PVC base and handmade pillow "discs"|
|The background poster for|
the 3-D product rule
|A physical representation of the|
proof of the 3-D product rule
(from a challenge set)
|An artpiece demonstrating the "picture proof" that any triangle constructed|
with the diameter of a circle and any point on the circumference is a right triangle.
The piece opens up to a full circle in order to demonstrate the proof, which is
inspired by the famous problem from Paul Lockhart's A Mathematician's Lament.
|A giant pop-up book explaining derivative shortcuts with |
the help of "Deric the Differentiating Duck"
|This one was exceptional - a painstaking model of the notorious |
(among my students) Ferris Wheel / Water Cart problem
presented by Goonies and made of pipe cleaners, complete with a
diving ballerina and a Lady Gaga-esque emcee.
|Two pirates present the box-method for the chain rule |
with nested boxes, ending in a treasure chest with gold coins for
those who are successfully able to take the derivative of a
complicated composite function.
|A comic (a la xkcd) presenting the challenge problem involving pirates and a secret |
language for communicating the identity of a card using only four other cards.