Saturday, April 18, 2015

How tall is the light pole?

In early March, Mother Nature was very cooperative with our lesson plans and we had a couple of 60 degree days.  We were in the middle of our similarity unit and wanted to get our geometry students outside for an activity.  My co-teacher and I had both done activities involving indirect measurement before in our previous schools, but we had both used clinometers and right triangle trigonometry as the vehicle.

This year, we decided to use mirrors and model our activity similar to the one shown here.

We modeled our lesson after Mr. Chuck Pack's lesson (from The Teaching Channel).  He does a much better job of explaining the activity on video than I could in writing.

The students loved getting outside and the day was a success.  Most importantly, students demonstrated strong understanding of the concept of indirect measurement and experienced it firsthand.

3.11.15 - Brookings HS

The indirect measurement activity using mirrors worked very well.

The one thing I really loved about Mr. Pack's activity that I had never thought of doing was collecting the data and tie in some data analysis / statistics into the day.  It's inevitable that at least one group make some major errors in their measurements or calculations.  Outliers and the effect an outlier has on the mean is begging to be discussed.  TI-Nspire does a very nice job of displaying the data from our three classes in the scatterplot. Great idea, Mr. Pack!

Next year, we're planning to improve our activity in two ways.  

1)  We used meter sticks and yard sticks to measure our distances along the ground.  Next year, we will hopefully have 100-ft tape measures.  It will be interesting to see if our data has less variation.

2) We are planning to use clinometers as well next year after our trigonometry unit.  We can then potentially use our mirror data and compare it to the clinometer data.  

If anyone has ideas of some statistical analysis type activities we can do to extend the lesson next year, please reply below.  I am especially interested in stats connections to the CCSS.

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