Lessons in Units

CCSS UnitsWhy do different jobs pay so differently? Students use unit rates to compare how much different professions make per year/day/hour and discuss ways to possibly equate compensation with social contribution.

How has the pace of human innovation changed over time? Students order and subtract integers to explore major milestones in human history and debate whether humans are innovating faster than we can keep up with the consequences.

What’s the best way to play roulette? Students use probabilities and odds to analyze roulette payouts and debate the optimal strategy for winning the game (including not playing at all).

How should students be graded? Students use percent change to evaluate how changes to a grading policy would affect students and discuss the fairest way to balance mastery with effort.

How much does age matter in a relationship? Students use a system of linear inequalities to explore the popular dating rule-of-thumb, ‘half plus seven’, and debate how important age -- and other factors -- are in healthy relationships.

What’s the ideal size of a soda can? Students create rational functions to explore the relationship between volume, surface area, and cost to determine the optimal size of a soda can.

How much of what we see is advertising? Students decompose irregular polygons into triangles and rectangles, find their areas to estimate the fraction of a scene that’s advertising, and discuss the pros and cons of living in an ad-free world.

How has the human population changed over time? Students develop exponential models to analyze human population growth and explore the impact this growth will have in areas around the world.

How should the winner of *The Biggest Loser* be chosen? Students compare pounds lost vs. percent lost, and analyze historical data to determine which method produces the fairest game.

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.

How do you create simple video games? Students apply geometric transformations to build (and play) their own games.

How much is Domino’s really charging for pizza? Students use slope, y-intercept, and linear equations to explore the costs of different-sized pizzas at Domino’s and debate whether the pizza chain should be more transparent in its pricing.

What secrets are hidden in squares? Students use concrete models to explore square numbers and square roots and confront the philosophical and moral questions posed by the existence of irrational numbers.

How do we view and create objects in 3D? Using MRI images, students study the connection between objects and their cross sections to understand 3D printing, its benefits, and its risks.

Why do manmade objects look the way they do? Students analyze the symmetry of objects, use geometric reflections to construct symmetrical images of their own, and debate the nature of beauty and perfection.