On another up note, the lessons for this week worked excellently. Debate was lively, students were engaged, and progress is being made mathematically and in terms of student success. This week we saw a recurring theme that is good to see, especially in the midst of the constant
Same with dimensional analysis. That topic is usually forced on students and they resist. They just want to multiply or divide. Plus, we do it once and rarely do it again. Our entire semester has had problems with conversions. So we started the semester learning how to do them just in terms of multiplying and dividing as well as judging which operation is appropriate and if our result makes sense. This week, we got some conversions that were very involved but asked them to use that technique (multiplying or dividing) to answer the question. And it was very frustrating. So we offered dimensional analysis and it was very welcomed. Not only did they use it, they understood it, and have continued to go to it since.
Again, as a math teacher, that is music to my ears.
We closed today with a lesson that integrates lots of content. That's something we do constantly as well. We wanted to know if the reduction in plastic made by water bottle manufacturers amounts to much and if so, how much? We couldn't find the volume of a water bottle cap so we had to use its density and weight. We weren't given the original amount of plastic, just the new amount and the fact that it's 30% less. Once they found the original amount, they found the amount saved for one bottle and then all the bottles in the U.S. for a year. That number is large so we converted it from cubic centimeters to cubic yards (still too big) to Olympic swimming pools (9, by the way). Not trivial, interesting, and integrated. I'll take that every day.
Heather and I will be AMATYC next week presenting a workshop on the course. We hope to see you there!