Why are so many Americans dying from opiate overdoses? Students use exponential decay functions to understand how the effectiveness of a single dose of a prescription drug deteriorates over time. Then they'll construct a rational function to explain how the dosage a patient would need to achieve their original pain relief changes, given this diminished effectiveness.

Students will discuss how these forces explain the rise in heroin and fentanyl overdoses that plagues America today. Finally, they'll debate the responsibility that different parties should take in solving this epidemic.

Students will

Describe the deterioration of pain relief from a standard dosage of opioids using an exponential decay function.

Construct a rational function to model the increased dosage a patient would need to maintain complete pain relief

Discuss and debate the role that pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patients, and society at large can and should have in addressing the opioid epidemic in America.

Before you begin

Adjust timing as needed depending on students' familiarity with exponential decay. Students don't need to have mastered writing exponential decay functions -- they can reason intuitively about the functions they write -- but it will be helpful to have explored some functions that model decay previously.

How much should people pay for donuts? Students use linear, rational, and piecewise functions to describe the total and average costs of an order at Carpe Donut.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF)

How far away from the TV should you sit? Students use right triangle trigonometry and a rational function to explore the percent of your visual field that is occupied by the area of a television.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED), Interpreting Functions (IF), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI), Similarity, Right Triangles, and Trigonometry (SRT)

How can you make money in a pyramid scheme? Students learn about how pyramid schemes work (and how they fail), and use geometric sequences to model the exponential growth of a pyramid scheme over time.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

Why hasn't everyone already died of a contagion? And, if vampires exist, shouldn't we all be sucking blood by now? Students model the exponential growth of a contagion and use logarithms and finite geometric series to determine the time needed for a disease to infect the entire population. They'll also informally prove that vampires can't be real.

Topic:
Creating Equations (CED), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

How much do you really pay when you use a credit card? Students develop an exponential growth model to determine how much an item really ends up costing when purchased on credit.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

Could Inspector Javert have survived the fall? Students use quadratic models to determine how high the bridge was in Les Misérables, and explore the maximum height from which someone can safely jump.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED), Interpreting Functions (IF)

How much can you trust your memory? Students construct and compare linear and exponential models to explore how much a memory degrades each time it's remembered.

Topic:
Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

How much should you bid in an auction? Students use probability, expected value, and polynomial functions to develop a profit-maximizing bidding strategy.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF)

How has the iPod depreciated over time? Students compare linear and exponential decay, as well as explore how various products have depreciated and what might account for those differences.

How can we improve our calendar? Students examine some other ways to keep track of dates, and use number sense and function concepts to convert between different calendars.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Functions (F), Interpreting Functions (IF)

How much Tylenol can you safely take? Students use exponential functions and logarithms to explore the risks of acetaminophen toxicity, and discuss what they think drug manufacturers should do to make sure people use their products safely.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

How has the urban population changed over time, and will we all eventually live in cities? Students use recursive rules along with linear and exponential models to explore how America's urban areas have been growing over the last 200 years.

Topic:
Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)

When should NFL teams go for it on fourth down? Students use quadratic functions to develop a model of expected points. They then apply this model to determine when teams should punt the ball, and more importantly, when they shouldn’t.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF), Using Probability to Make Decisions (MD)

How much should Nintendo charge for the Wii U? Students use linear functions to explore demand for the Wii U console and Nintendo's per-unit profit from each sale. They use those functions to create a quadratic model for Nintendo's total profit and determine the profit-maximizing price for the console.

Topic:
Creating Equations (CED), Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)

Which size pizza should you order? Students apply the area of a circle formula to write linear and quadratic formulas that measure how much of a pizza is actually pizza, and how much is crust.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED), Interpreting Functions (IF), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)

How do noise-canceling headphones work? In this lesson, students use transformations of trigonometric functions to explore how sound waves can interfere with one another, and how noise-canceling headphones use incoming sounds to figure out how to produce that sweet, sweet silence.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF)

How should pharmaceutical companies decide what to develop? In this lesson, students use linear and quadratic functions to explore how much pharmaceutical companies expect to make from different drugs, and discuss ways to incentivize companies to develop medications that are more valuable to society.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED), Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

How much should companies pay their employees? Students graph and solve systems of linear equations in order to examine the effects of wage levels on labor and consumer markets, and they discuss the possible pros and cons of increasing the minimum wage.

Topic:
Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)

How has the human population changed over time? Students build an exponential model for population growth and use it to make predictions about the future of our planet.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Interpreting Functions (IF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE)

Do social networks like Facebook make us more connected? Students create a quadratic function to model the number of possible connections as a network grows, and consider the consequences of relying on Facebook for news and information.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Creating Equations (CED)

How have video game console speeds changed over time? Students write an exponential function based on the Atari 2600 and Moore's Law, and see whether the model was correct for subsequent video game consoles.

Topic:
Building Functions (BF), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

Why hasn't everyone already died of a contagion? And, if vampires exist, shouldn't we all be sucking blood by now? Students model the exponential growth of a contagion and use logarithms and finite geometric series to determine the time needed for a disease to infect the entire population.

Topic:
Creating Equations (CED), Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models (LE), Seeing Structure in Expressions (SSE)

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Mathalicious lessons provide teachers with an opportunity to teach standards-based math through real-world topics that students care about.

How do the rules of an election affect who wins? Students calculate (as a percent) how much of the electoral and popular vote different presidential candidates have received, and add with integers to explore elections under possible alternative voting systems.

Topic:
Number System (NS), Ratios and Proportional Relationships (RP), Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities (REI)