## Tuesday, September 14, 2010

### WCYDWT: Space Shuttle Discovery

I've tipped my hand here a bit because simply showing a shuttle launch would be way too open ended. I have the original lesson plan as designed by NASA and I'm pretty sure how I'd go about presenting this lesson, but I'm curious as to how y'all'd do it.

STS 121 Launch (Initial/Final values) from David Cox on Vimeo.

Dan Meyer said...

Good work with AE, Dave.

I can't figure out, though, what all the plotting and regressioning is in the service of. I'm scanning through a four-page student edition trying to figure out Where Is All This Going. Can you help me out here? What is the one-sentence concise hook? Or hooks? If any.

David Cox said...

Thanks, Dan.

Where's the hook? I was hoping you might help with that. It interests the heck out of me that the fuel burns off as a linear and the altitude increases as a quadratic.

I don't like the canned lesson at all. I'm looking at this lesson as something I could do with middle schoolers and they'd see a story that graphs linear or quadratic depending on the point of view.

Maybe it doesn't have the potential to be a true WCYDWT, although I'm honestly asking the question. If you didn't have the student edition, would there be anything about the mass and/or altitude data that interests you?

Justin Lanier said...

This is off the cuff. But.

I like the idea of a problem about the shuttle and various quantities surrounding a launch. This video, though, doesn't seem to ask a question whose answer could come from the video. The video gets me wondering about some quantities, and your linear/quadratic teaser has me in a calculus tizzy. But I'm not seeing a problem here as much as a theme to study. There's not a critical event that happens or that is on the verge of happening. There's no specific quantity I want to find. The relationship between some quantities is interesting, but that would turn into a modeling problem, and the data would just be coming from you (not the video) anyhow. So a kid's going to plot a lot of data and see a relationship. That seems kind of unsatisfying. I guess Dan already said that.

I feel like this is in contrast with your pullback racecar activity, which has very similar trappings and even content but provides a so-much-richer mathematical experience.

A thought: The video might be a cool example of "a story that graphs linear or quadratic depending on the point of view." Once introduced, you could ask your students to brainstorm other possible multiply-seen scenarios (both pure and applied) and then collect data. Pure: area and perimeter of a square as side length increases. Applied: height of lamp and length of shadow. Whatever.

Also, with only two data points in the video, what would prompt me to wonder what kind of relationship exists between the quantities?

Rad, Dave. Thanks so much for putting this out here.

David Cox said...

Is there any information that could be added that would make you want to find a specific quantity?

Dan Meyer said...

I want to see the gas pump that fills up the thing. I want to see the meter spinning around and around like crazy and wonder how much gas is it going to take to get it out of the atmosphere. Then I want you to nudge me along until I construct an answer for myself. Then I want to see the end of the video to see if I was right.

I realize that isn't actually how the space shuttle work, but that's the spirit of the perplexing media in this case.

David Cox said...

I'm in total agreement with you with regards to the lack of perplexity. But I'm not sure I have the necessary resources to give you what you want. How would you make it better?

Even if we had the resources to gather the data in a more natural way, does this particular piece even have the potential to be as perplexing as your current trend of wcydwt?

Jason Buell said...

I'm with Justin here. It doesn't really demand a question in any natural way. The relationships are pasted on (literally). I'm looking at the video like...cool...but I don't really find myself wondering anything. And after reading Ashli's post on how the Boat/River problem went, I'm probably extra sensitive to the fact that students don't think as mathematically as math teachers do. The question has to smack them in the face.

Have you tried running the video by your students (the raw one, sans added data) and just seeing what questions they ask?

David Cox said...

When I received this lesson plan, the table of data was all there. Just plopped right in front of the kids. They're asked to the plug it into their calculator and do a regression. First thing I thought was, "man, I wish we could see a video of the launch with the control panels (or something) inset and let the kids just figure out how to tell this story from differing POV's. At the very least, I'd like my kids to see the data develop( even if literally pasted) in real time.

Perhaps I should have posted this with a lower case "wcydwt", because I'm really asking, " what can you do with this?"

What media/data would we really need in order to get that obvious question? Is it even possible in this case?

Jason Buell said...

I think at least 3 out of the last 5 comments I've left around the blogosphere have been multiple paragraphs that just say, "I don't know."

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I'd probably need to see a "total amount of fuel left" gauge along with the speed or altitude. Even then, I don't know if I'd be interested. Interesting relationship,yes, but I think there's not a natural "I want to see how this ends" tug. Most kids probably wouldn't even look at the dials, they'd just watch the shuttle.

If we're sticking with shuttles, I think my most natural tug would be something like in Apollo 13 where I want to know if they can make it back to Earth.

Avoiding the video entirely, maybe an infographic (I use this term loosely but I imagine some sort of proportional representation) of the volume of fuel required to reach certain altitudes.

Actually, I think those stats of how much it costs per pound to get stuff into space are interesting.

On the other hand, if you're looking for some sort of media where the solution plays itself out, I've gotta assume there's some sort of web game or iphone app that has a mechanic like in the shuttle video. Launching stuff at targets or whatever.