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Showing posts from June, 2017

Discovery learning in polar graphing with Desmos

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The current regular algebra and trigonometry text in use during the regular term does not include polar coordinates nor polar graphing. Both are topics that are often a black-box mystery to students, hard to envision and perhaps even harder to graph. Polar graph paper helps, but there are an awful lot of calculations on a scientific calculator before one can "see" the graph.

The OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry text in experimental use this summer includes polar coordinates and graphing. These topics fit rather well into the summer curriculum which also includes a look at vectors - vectors underpin so much of physics and the physical sciences, as well as being important in computer graphics. The x = r cos θ and y = r sin θ that the class first met in generating SVG coordinates using trigonometric functions return as conversion functions from Cartesian to polar coordinates. This pair of functions will appear again in the section on vectors.

In section 10.3Desmos was used in …

Increasing use of online technologies pushes the need for more screen real estate

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In MS 101 Algebra and Trigonometry the class is using the OpenStax Algebra and Technology textbook, Desmos graphing calculator to make graphs and calculations, and Schoology learning management system for classwork, assignments, and online tests.


Screen real estate is particularly problematic, even on a 16:9 screen.


During a Friday test many students deployed their own personal technology to augment their screen real estate. The student above has both a laptop and a smartphone, providing additional screen real estate. Although the college limits students to a single WiFi login, the Desmos app for smartphones does not need WiFi for full mathematical functionality.


Another student is viewing notes on his tablet - the tests are open book. As the problems are both different from the textbook problems and unique, the text is not necessarily as helpful as might be expected. The problems require the students to creatively apply the mathematics, not just follow a rote schema.


Splitting the sc…

A visit to the weather station, RipStik wave, sound speed, and the colors of the spectrum

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The physical science class arrived at the National Weather Service office at 9:47 A.M. Only two students opted to ride the bus down from campus.


The class arrived in time for the 10:00 weather balloon launch. Stephanie, Lillibeth, and Herlinda look on as the balloon is prepared for filling with hydrogen.


The team at the weather station explains the purpose of the weather balloon.


The radiosonde will report back temperature, pressure, and dew point data.


Balloon away!

Balloon aloft on a day of scattered clouds.


Inside the data from the balloon is being tracked.


Raw data as the balloon ascends.


Current station pressure.


The class listens intently as the weather balloon data is explained.


METAR report data.

Satellite shots over the Pacific.



"Chatty beetles" for communications with the outer islands.

On Wednesday morning attention turned to waves, led off by the recording of a RipStik wave


A wavelength of 80 cm and an amplitude of 7 cm was obtained.


1.92 seconds was the duration …

Heat conduction to Finding Binky

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With MITC not available for the Monday video, I opted to try downloading the heat videos to ChromeBook and then running the videos from the ChromeBook in A101. This worked better than I had expected. 

The video series is from the 1980s. MITC has six of the videos on VCR tape. With summer classes being 90 minutes, I took advantage of the availability online of a longer set running from number 16 all the way to conduction up around video 28 or thereabouts.


Temperature and heat continued on Tuesday with ice water, boiling water, human temperature in the morning. This was prefaced by reviewing the prior Friday's test. The class wrapped up with going on the porch to use the remote surface temperature probe to determine that the while the classroom was 28 Celsius, and outdoor air temperature in the sun was 32, the sunny sidewalk was 46 Celsisus.


Finding Binky was preceded by a stormy night with thunder and rain.


The sun would crack the morning sky and the Binky hide was on.


Sunrise off…