Engaging students: Computing logarithms with base 10

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Katelyn Kutch. Her topic, from Precalculus: computing logarithms with base 10.

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How has this topic appeared in the news?

http://www.seeitmarket.com/the-log-blog-trading-with-music-and-logarithmic-scale-investing-14879/ . This website gives an insight into logarithms that many students would not know and I think that what is has to say is quite interesting. While this may not be a news article, it includes many methods in which logarithms can and are being used in the world. It also gives some insight into the history of logarithms. I feel like showing the students this website would get them interested in logarithms because they can see what logarithms can do, like tell us the magnitude of an earthquake on the Richter Scale. Students may not find logarithms interesting, but I feel like most would find this interesting.

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

http://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2014/01/introducing-logarithms-with-foldables.html . This website gives multiples games that teachers can do with logarithms, not just base 10, but for all logarithms. The teacher had foldables that the students put their notes in for logarithms and personally, as a kinesthetic learner, that is something that I loved when teachers did it. It helped me visually put down the notes and it was something that I could keep to refer to. The teacher also had Log War, Log Bingo, and Log Speed Dating. Students always respond better when a sense of fun is involved in the lesson and this teacher proved that when one of her students asked about another game involving the subject. The games are ones that students interact with the teacher, with each other, and it enhances their own thinking because they are having to do calculations, correctly, in order to win the game. This seems like a wonderful website to pull from when wanting to do something fun with a lesson.


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What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or the development of this topic?

In 1614 a Scottish mathematician by the name of John Napier published his discovery for logarithms. Napier worked with an English mathematician by the name of Henry Briggs. The two of them adjusted Napier’s original logarithm to the form that we use today. After Napier passed away, Briggs continued their work alone and published, in 1624, a table of logarithms that calculated 14 decimal places for numbers between 1 and 20,000, and numbers between 90,000 and 100,000. In 1628 Adriaan Vlacq, a Dutch publisher, published a 10 decimal place table for values between 1 and 100,000, which included the values for 70,000 that were not previously published. Both men worked on setting up log trigonometric tables. Later, the notation Log(y) was adopted in 1675, by Leibniz, and soon after he connected Log(y) to the integral of dy/y.



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