Lessons in Units

CCSS UnitsHow do cell phone towers identify your location? Students describe geometrically the location information provided by a cell phone tower, explain why loci from at least three towers are required to pinpoint a customer's location, and consider the tradeoff between coverage and "locatability" when a phone company chooses a new tower location.

Were megalodons godfathers of the sea? Students model the bodies of different sharks using cylinders, and explore how the volume of a cylinder changes when its dimensions change. They learn that the megalodon was a massive ocean beast, but that its size may ultimately have led to its downfall.

How much should vowels cost on *Wheel of Fortune*? Students use ratios and percents to explore what would happen if *Wheel of Fortune* charged prices for vowels based on how often they come up.

What's the best way to design a food tray? Students calculate the volumes of rectangular prisms and use that information to design a cafeteria tray that looks good and holds a balanced meal.

Have income distributions in the U.S. improved over time? Students compare percentages of total income earned by different subgroups of the working population and decide whether or not the “American Dream” is equally achievable by all Americans.

Have presidential speeches gotten dumber? Students evaluate the Flesch-Kincaid formula with inputs from three different presidents and analyze the formula to predict how specific changes to a speech will impact its score.

What do squares reveal about the universe? Students learn about the Pythagoreans and explore how to square numbers and find square roots, confront the weirdness of irrational numbers, and discover what happens when people’s most fundamental beliefs are thrown into doubt.

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.

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.

Are there numbers hidden in nature? Students use the Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Ratio to uncover the mathematical mysteries of the universe.

Is *Wheel of Fortune* rigged? Students use percents and probabilities to compare theoretical versus experimental probabilities, and explore whether the show is legit, or whether there might be something shady going on!

How much should people pay for cable? Students interpret scatterplots and calculate the costs and revenues for consumers and providers under both the bundled and à la carte pricing schemes to determine which would be better for U.S. companies and customers.

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.