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Gathering Data and Making Projections

Tasks and problems from a variety of sources intended to illustrate the way mathematics arises in life and work.

Predicting Motion. Use data gathered from the first 20 seconds of the action of a wind-up toy to predict where it will be at the end of 30 seconds.

Skid Marks. Use skid marks to determine how fast a car was going before an accident. Data, which can either be provided or gathered, include length of skid marks of each wheel; wheel length of vehicle; reaction time in shifting from accelerator to brake; coefficient of friction (inferred by testing another vehicle and comparing speed with length of skid).

Sliding Books. Collect data on various ways to slide a book across a floor (e.g., long steady push, short abrupt shove) in order to predict how far it will go.

Absorbency of Towels. Collect and analyze data on absorbency and strength of different brands of paper towels and make a recommendation about which brand to buy.

Classifying Insects. Biologists seeking a way to easily distinguish between two varieties of a biting insect--one of which transmits a serious disease--collect data on wing length and antenna length. From these data, determine a simple way for a field worker to identify midges based on these two measurements.

To contribute or correct items, please e-mail information to: extend@stolaf.edu or click here.

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Last Update: 12/28/98