You can do anything with math...
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Did you ever wonder why a camel has a hump? If you can really tell the weather by listening to the chirp of a cricket? Or why our joints make popping sounds? These questions deal with everyday phenomena that we often take for granted, but each can be explained scientifically.
Teachable Moment: Physics is everywhere... even in cartoons... but are they getting it right? This entertaining video deconstructs the physics of My Little Pony exploring such concepts as the math of a Mach cone, kinematics, conservation of momentum, and Newton's Third Law.
Teachable Moment: Engaging podcasts on science. I particularly like the hands on experiments in the Kitchen Science section http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/kitchenscience/ and Garage Science http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/kitchenscience/garage-science/
The Naked Scientists are a media-savvy group of physicians and researchers from Cambridge University who use radio, live lectures, and the Internet to strip science down to its bare essentials, and promote it to the general public. Their award winning BBC weekly radio programme, The Naked Scientists, reaches a potential audience of 6 million listeners across the east of England, and also has an international following on the web.
Teachable Moment: This 14 minute documentary produced by NASA on the occasion of the 2011 retirement of the program, puts into amazing perspective the impact and scope of the shuttle program after 30 years of flights.
It also provides a window into the process of development of novel programs... down to the detail of early models being pulled by a souped up Pontiac!
And in a stroke of brilliance, William Shatner is the narrator...
Teachable Moment: The Challenger disaster was blamed on gas escaping from a faulty o-ring and much debate and discussion has emerged about how engineers should have known that that could have happened. The data is readily available for students to analyze and plot themselves and can lead to a great case study or discussion.
Richard Feynman was one of twelve members appointed to a commission tasked with investigating the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Feynman's experiments showed that the tragedy was caused by a failure of the craft's rubber-like O-rings. Made of material with reduced resilience at temperatures below freezing, the rings were cracked by freezing weather, cracks which led to the escape of hot gasses leading to the fatal explosion. Much to the annoyance of commission chair William P. Rogers, Feynman used a glass of ice water and an O-ring to conclusively show the seal's vulnerability — at a press conference in front of live television cameras.
Teachable Moment: Most applied math problems are simply dressed up word problems but don't make the math any more interesting or engaging. This web site teases out math problems from current events, press releases, and NASA missions.
SpaceMath@NASA introduces students to the use of mathematics in todays scientific discoveries. Through press releases and other articles, we explore how many kinds of mathematics skills come together in exploring the universe.
Teachable Moment: "Applied Math" can often be full of tortured attempts to make a math problem relevant by layering a story... but real life failures! That's fun and memorable ;-)
Use the second link in the reference for the answer key.
Story 1: On September 23, 1999 NASA lost the $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft after a 286-day journey to Mars. Miscalculations due to the use of English units instead of metric units apparently sent the craft slowly off course - - 60 miles in all. Thrusters used to help point the spacecraft had, over the course of months, been fired incorrectly because data used to control the wheels were calculated in incorrect units.
Lockheed Martin, which was performing the calculations, was sending thruster data in English units (pounds) to NASA, while NASA's navigation team was expecting metric units (Newtons).
Problem 1 - A solid rocket booster is ordered with the specification that it is to produce a total of 10 million pounds of thrust. If this number is mistaken for the thrust in Newtons, by how much, in pounds, will the thrust be in error? (1 pound = 4.5 Newtons)
The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is a national network of digital envirionments dedicated to advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning for all learners, in both formal and informal settings. NSDL is the locus of activity for the National STEM Distributed Learning program.
NSDL advances teaching and learning by providing:
GeoGebra is free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that joins geometry, algebra, tables, graphing, statistics and calculus in one easy-to-use package. It has received several educational software awards in Europe and the USA.
Teachable Moment: This little book cleverly crams complex mathematical concepts into a story of a bad dream.... what more can you say? If you find numbers interesting, explore them in a whole new way with the help of this little devil.
Twelve year old Robert fears numbers and hates maths. Then, in his dreams, he meets the Number Devil who introduces him to the amazing and magical world of numbers. This international bestseller is an exciting adventure in learning for both adults and children which will do for mathematics what "Sophie's World" did for philosophy.
To Purchase: The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure
Authors: Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Rotraut Susanne Berner, Michael Henry Heim
Teachable Moment: This thought experiment can be used at so many levels. At its core, it teaches basic concepts of astronomy but it also can be used to explore the properties of light and even of the concept of infinity. As the distance of the object approaches infinity, the impact of the atmosphere is stronger and stronger.
Stars twinkle. Planets shine steadily. Why?
Stars always twinkle because they’re so far away from Earth that, even through large telescopes, they appear only as pinpoints. And it’s easy for Earth’s atmosphere to disturb the pinpoint light of a star.
Teachable Moment: This wonderful thought experiment is a great way of exploring probabilities as they apply to multiple random events. The mere fact that it has infused its way into popular culture is a testament to its ability to engage thinkers.
The infinite monkey theorem, originally posited by Emile Borel, states that a monkey pressing keys at random on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time would eventually type a finite text.
The probability of typing that text is straight forward:
MathWorldTM is the web's most extensive mathematical resource, provided as a free service to the world's mathematics and internet communities as part of a commitment to education and educational outreach by Wolfram Research, makers of Mathematica.
The NRICH Project aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. To support this aim, members of the NRICH team work in a wide range of capacities, including providing professional development for teachers wishing to embed rich mathematical tasks into everyday classroom practice. More information on many of our other recent activities can be found on our news pages.
CS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around.