Data Collection Intersects With Real Life
in Algebra II Project
Corbett Prep Middle School students explored data analysis with a community component.
Jan. 28, 2016 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Corbett Prep math teachers brought data analysis out of the textbook and into daily life in a new Algebra II investigation that merged math with civic action.
The Middle School lessons on creating precise relationships from data kicked off with a unique field trip to two busy corners of Dale Mabry Highway in North Tampa.
Students stood on the sidewalk where Dale Mabry intersects with Humphrey Street and Waters Avenue for their observations and fact-finding. They logged the number of vehicles each red light stopped, the number of vehicles stopped multiple times by each red light and the length of time it took a car to drive from one intersection to the next. They also tracked how long the green and red lights lasted.
Once they had recorded the statistics, they returned to Corbett Prep to explore the relationships the data formed. The unit is dealing with linear, quadratic, cubic and higher-degree polynomials, says math teacher Tom Bronson, and students have used gravity, container volume and even cell phone battery life to recognize that relationships can be defined in different ways.
Examining the traffic collection data led the class to the conclusion that a car’s acceleration is non-linear. A follow-up investigation on their parents’ cars asked them to clock the time it took the cars to reach 10, 20, 30 miles per hour and more. They then used quadratics to define the general relationship between speed and acceleration for the average vehicle.
The lesson could have ended there. But Corbett Prep teachers wanted to take it a step further and added a community component. The class discussed how re-timing lights on Dale Mabry would allow more cars to move between the intersections. Bronson will ask students to compose letters to Tampa city officials explaining their observations — supporting their recommendations with the mathematical relationships defined in class.
Bronson is excited about the outreach and its potential to have a “direct impact on the immediate community.”