Lessons in Units

CCSS UnitsHow should pharmaceutical companies decide which drugs to develop? Students create linear and quadratic functions to explore how much pharmaceutical companies profit from different drugs and consider ways to incentivize companies to prioritize medications that are valuable to society.

How were free states and slave states represented in Congress? In this lesson, students use census data and fraction multiplication to explore the effects of the Three-Fifths Compromise on the balance of power between free and slave states in early America.

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.

How should grades be calculated? Students use averages and weighted means to examine some different grading schemes and decide what other factors ought to be considered when teachers assign grades.

What transformations do smartphones use? In this lesson, students identify and categorize the different transformations that occur when a user manipulates a smartphone screen. They also use on-screen coordinates to calculate the results of zooming within an application and to decide whether ponying up for a larger screen is worth it.

How have temperatures changed around the world? Students compare current temperatures to historical averages, and add and subtract positive and negative numbers to explore how the climate has changed in various cities over time.

How fast is the Earth spinning? Students use unit rates to find the speed at which the planet rotates along the Equator, Tropic of Cancer, and Arctic Circle.

What does Earth really look like? Students approximate the areas of different landmasses by decomposing them into triangles and rectangles. They do this for two different maps, and debate whether or not the map you use affects how you see — both literally and figuratively — the world.

Should shoe companies sell left and right shoes separately? Students collect survey and measurement data, construct bar graphs, and discuss distributions and measures of central tendency in order to figure out whether shoe companies should necessarily be selling their products in same-size pairs.

How do camera settings affect the final image, and how can we use aperture and shutter speed to take better pictures? Students use the area of circles and fractions to explore how to properly expose a picture, and how photographers use depth of field and motion blur to get the perfect shot.

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.

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.

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.

How much should Nintendo charge for a video game console? Students use linear and quadratic models to analyze and discuss the relationship between the price of a Wii U console and profits for Nintendo.

How have video game consoles changed over time? Students create exponential models to predict the speed of video game processors over time, compare their predictions to observed speeds, and consider the consequences as digital simulations become increasingly lifelike.