Lessons in Units

CCSS UnitsHow have temperatures changed around the world? Students use periodic functions to compare long-term average monthly temperatures to recorded monthly temperatures, evaluate evidence of climate change, and discuss possible consequences.

Is there evidence of racial bias in death penalty sentencing? Students analyze almost thirty years’ worth of data summarized in frequency tables and discuss whether they see evidence of racial bias in who receives the death penalty and who doesn’t.

Is higher education a good investment? Students write and solve systems of linear equations to determine how long it would take to pay off various degrees and discuss the pros and cons of different educational paths.

How dangerous are heat and humidity? Students use polynomial functions to explore the heat index and discuss the life-and-death consequences that cities around the world will face in the coming years.

What’s the best strategy for cutting down trees? Students use cylinder volume to determine how the amount of wood in a tree changes as it grows and discuss how communities around the world can harvest (or not harvest) wood in a sustainable way.

How big is the White House? Students build scale models of the White House, compare scaling in one vs. two vs. three dimensions and design their ideal version of the president’s house.

How accurate should government surveillance be? Students calculate conditional probabilities to determine the likelihood of false-positives and false-negatives, and discuss the tradeoffs between safety and accuracy.

What time should school start in the morning? Students use periodic functions to compare the alertness levels of adults vs. teenagers over the course of the day and debate the merits of starting school later.

How is homelessness changing in the United States? Students write linear equations to describe how the number of people experiencing homelessness has changed in different cities and use their equations to predict how those populations will grow in the future.

How is wealth distributed in the United States? Students use measures of center, five-number summaries, and box plots to examine different distributions while digging into one of the most important economic and political issues facing any nation.

How many different shoes can you design on NIKEiD? Students use the Fundamental Counting Principle to calculate how many color combinations are possible for the popular Nike Air Force 1 shoe, and then they explore the "paralysis-by-analysis" that can come from too much choice.

How does the what we see affect our happiness? Students explore the concept of the jen ratio – the ratio of positive to negative observations in our daily lives – and use it to discuss how the content we consume and the things we observe influence our experience of the world.

Which size pizza is the best deal? Is it ever a good idea to buy the personal pan from Pizza Hut? Students use unit rates and percents, and the area of a circle to explore the math behind pizza bargains.

Should people with small feet pay less for shoes? Students use unit rates to calculate how much different-sized shoes cost per ounce and debate the fairest way for manufacturers to charge for their shoes.

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.