Engaging students: Half-life

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 Kerryana Medlin. Her topic: working with the half-life of a radioactive element.

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How can this topic be used in you students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

Depending on when they take precalculus, this topic may appear earlier or later in chemistry. The following is the list of TEKS for this topic in chemistry.

112.35. Chemistry (12) Science concepts. The student understands the basic processes of nuclear chemistry. The student is expected to:
(A) describe the characteristics of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation;
(B) describe radioactive decay process in terms of balanced nuclear equations; and
(C) compare fission and fusion reactions.

This is likely the most immediate application the students will encounter, but this topic also appears in calculus and, later, in the topic of differential equations, since it involves exponential decay. This topic can also be brought up in environmental science to mention the lifetime of radioactive isotopes. When a student crunches the numbers on the lifetimes of these isotopes, they can see that sometimes a small action has a huge ripple effect, especially for isotopes that humans bring into the picture.

 

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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?

Ernest Rutherford received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 for his discovery of the half-life of radioactive materials and his insistence that we apply this information to find the Earth’s age (Mastin, 2009). This later became more of a reality when Willard Libby started to develop carbon dating in 1946 (Radiocarbon Dating). Since then, carbon dating has been used to find the age of historical artifacts and bones, allowing historians to find more accurate time frames of events.

Carbon is not the only radioactive isotope. There are others which come to mind more readily when the word “radioactive” is used. These are typically the elements used for nuclear reactors. These are elements which readily undergo nuclear fission, which is the splitting of atoms, which releases energy. Uranium and Plutonium are the most common of these isotopes. Uranium-235 is the most commonly used for reactors and bombs (Brain and Lamb, 2000). This is probably the more interesting part of half-lives of elements and can extend the learning to an environmental issue such as nuclear waste, which takes an extremely long time to decay and which the U.S. Government has, in the past, not handled so well. (But I am not going into that, lest I go on a rant).

The last piece of history worth mentioning is fairly recent (and can be seen in real life and in the game mentioned later in this paper) which is that half-lives are not so clear cut. There is definitely a lot of estimating involved in the accepted half-life values. There is an article about this if you are interested (http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0026-1394/52/3/S51/pdf), but I will leave it at this: much like most mathematical models, there is error in the half-life model, and the model formed may be a best fit, but there are always outliers for data and while carbon dating and half-lives of Uranium can give great estimates of what we are working with, they are not perfect.

 

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How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

For this topic, there is an interactive simulation posted on PHET. It lends itself to a guided worksheet which would allow students to use the simulations to create the functions for each half-life.
So the following would be an example of said worksheet without spaces for actual answers:

Radioactive Half-Life of Carbon-14 and Uranium-238

Please access the following website: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/radioactive-dating-game

Once there, download and run the game.

At the top of the game window are four different tabs: Half Life, Decay Rates, Measurement, and Dating Game. We will be going through each one in that order.

Some information about radioactive isotopes: An isotope is an element which has the same number of protons in its nucleus, but a differing number of neutrons, thus making it radioactive. These elements have lives which are defined by the time it takes to no longer be radioactive.

Part I: Half Life

Select the Carbon-14 atom and start placing the atoms in the white area. (The “add 10” tool is helpful here.) Then observe as each goes to Nitrogen-14 (This means the element is no longer radioactive and the radioactive isotope has run its course.)

What do you observe about the lives of the isotopes?

What time-frame do these lives fall into?

Do the same for Uranium-238 and record the time-frame.

Part II: Decay Rates

This part works by adjusting the slider and allowing the isotopes to run the course of their lives.

What does the graph on the bottom tell us?

How does one read the half-life of an isotope from this graph?

At what percent do we find the first half-life?

What is the half-life of Carbon-14 from this graph? Half-life of Uranium-238?

Part III: Measurement

On this one, you activate two separate events and then take readings of the amount of Carbon-14 and Uranium-238 in the objects.

Which item contains the Carbon-14? The Uranium-238?

Use the pause feature as you are taking the readings to find precise values of the half-lives.

At what percentages should we be reading the half-lives?

Use this data to create a function to model the half-life of both isotopes.

Part IV: Dating Game

Use your functions to estimate the date of two of the items (One C-14 and one U-238) in the dating game. Write down the name of the item and the estimated age of the item.

 

References:

Brain, Marshall and Lamb, Robert. (2000). How Nuclear Power Works. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from
https://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-power1.htm
Mastin, Luke. (2009). Important Scientists: Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937). The Physics of the Universe.
Retrieved from http://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/scientists_rutherford.html
n.a. (2016). Willard Libby and Radiocarbon Dating. The American Chemical Society. Retrieved from
https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/radiocarbon-dating.html
n.a. (n.d). Radioactive Dating Game. PHET Interactive Simulations. Retrieved from
https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/radioactive-dating-game

 

 

Engaging students: Exponential Growth and Decay

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 Megan Termini. Her topic, from Precalculus: exponential growth and decay.

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

A fun and engaging activity for students learning about exponential growth and decay would be a zombie activity. The students will get a scenario about the zombie attacks and they will predict the way the zombie attacks will work. Then to begin, the teacher will be the only one infected and to show the infection, they will have a red dot on their hand. Then they will shut off the lights and turn them back on to indicate a new day. Then the teacher will “infect” one other student by putting a red dot on their hand. Then they will turn the lights off and turn back on for day 2. Then both the teacher and the infected student will both go “infect” one other person. Then it continues day by day until everyone in the class is infected. Then they will put their data in a table, graph it and can see that it is an exponential growth, then write an equation for it (Reference A). This is great way of getting the whole class involved and zombies are very popular with tv shows and movies. It also lets them explore, see the pattern, and try to come up with the equation on their own.

 

 

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

A great use of technology for graphing exponential growth and decay is Desmos. Desmos lets the students take an equation and plug it in to see the graph. They are also able to change the window to see it better. It also will give you the table for the function that you inputted. It’s good for students to graph it on here to see the graph and also, they are able to click anywhere on the graph to see the point they want. This also would be a good program for them to check their work after trying the problem on their own first (Reference B). Another great website is Math Warehouse. This website lets students explore the graph of exponential functions. Students can type in their function and can graph it. It also lets you compare it to y=x, y=x2, and y=x3. It also has the properties for exponential growth and decay. This website is great for students to interact with exponential functions and also explore them (Reference C).

 

 

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

Exponential functions stay with you all through your school career. You use them in many mathematics courses like algebra, algebra 2, pre-calculus, calculus, etc. You also use them in science courses like biology, chemistry, physics, etc. Understanding how to graph exponential growth and decay functions is a very important tool for future courses. For example, in algebra 2 the students will be learning about logarithms and exponentials, and will have to graph both of them and know the difference between them. Another example is in biology, comparing the number of births and the number of deaths of a species. The data may show an exponential growth in the number of births and exponential decay in the number of deaths, and the students would need to know how to plot the data points and graph it. It is also important for them to understand what the graph means and not just how to graph it. These are skills students will need in not only their future mathematics and science courses, but also in their future careers. For example, a biologist who studies a species of animals might have an exponential decay of the animal and would track its progress every week or every day and graph it to show the decrease of the amount of that species. Many students may not realize it now, but graphing exponential growth and decay is an important topic to understand how to do and why it is important to learn.

References:

A. “Zombies: Exploring Exponential Growth.” BetterLesson, betterlesson.com/lesson/460610/zombies-exploring-exponential-growth.
B. “Exponential Growth and Decay.” Desmos Graphing Calculator, http://www.desmos.com/calculator/d7dnmu5cuq.
C. “Interactive Exponential Function Graph/Applet.” Exponential Growth/Decay Graph Applet . Explore graph and equation of exponential functions| Math Warehouse, http://www.mathwarehouse.com/exponential-growth-and-decay/interactive-exponential-graph-applet.php.

 

 

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 110

I overheard the following terrific one-liner recently. A teacher was about to begin a lecture on exponential growth. His opening question to engage his students: “What does your bank account have to do with bacteria… other than they both might be really tiny?”

Engaging students: Exponential Growth and Decay

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 Madison duPont. Her topic, from Precalculus: exponential growth and decay.

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

Through an EDSE 4000 assignment (for which we were to find a Higher Level Task,) I found a fantastic activity that demonstrates exponential growth and decay in an exploratory, hands-on manner. The link to the website with the lesson plan as well as the activity can be found below. This activity is beneficial to the students for several reasons. The first is that they use a variety of materials and methods: hands-on manipulatives (M&Ms), technology (graphing calculators), and written work. This provides students with varied learning styles a chance to participate in and understand the concept of exponential growth and decay. Consequently, the students are able to experience how quickly exponential growth and decay occurs as the number of M&Ms they are having to count, collect, shake, and dump on their desk grows or shrinks rapidly. They then are able to see how this real-life phenomenon can be measured mathematically through an equation and represented mathematically in a graph. Another reason why I enjoyed this activity was because the worksheet had them make conjectures, analyze data, and find relationships between factual and actual information. This activity was conducted in my EDSE 4000 class and proved to even interest colleagues because the likelihood of getting an exponential relationship from probability of M&Ms facing a certain way seemed unlikely and intriguing. There were a few tips I took away from conducting the activity in my class that may be helpful to remember when conducting this activity again. First, be sure to instruct students not to eat any of the M&Ms until after they complete both the growth and decay portion. Second, inform students of how to count morphed or faded M&Ms prior to the activity. Third, the students will need to be slightly informed about exponential functions in order to make conjectures or determine theoretical functions as required in the worksheet. Fourth, going over how to use the calculator as directed prior to or during the activity may help the activity run more smoothly. Lastly, skittles do not work as well with this activity because they make a significantly sticky mess as they melt in hands. Overall, the hands-on exploration and intellectual reasoning utilized in this activity makes exponential growth and decay interesting, entertaining, and relatable.

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How has this topic appeared in the news?

Exponential growth and decay is largely recognized in the news media regarding the Exponential Growth in Technology. The links below provide intriguing information about the study of how quickly and steadily technology is growing. Morris’ Law is referenced often to provide some explanation for the startlingly rapid growth of technology and decay of previous forms of technology. Also, provided on these sites are videos of Ray Kurzweil discussing his theories of technology being able to duplicate patterns and behaviors of the human brain even more powerfully than that of a human in the near future due to the exponential pattern of technology’s growth. This would likely be interesting to students as technology is a growing part of their lives, lives that may become even more dependent on technology in this coming generation’s lifetime. All of this plausible reality being convincingly calculated from a simple exponential pattern that can be introduced in a high school classroom is pretty amazing, and possibly even powerful, to the minds of future students that can apply this knowledge to the technology phenomenon (or maybe even in other topics of our society) in their future careers. Another video found on the thatsreallypossible.com site has Dr. Albert Bartlett discussing the relevance and impact of “simple” exponential relationships applied to our global community’s resources and economy that are not just hypothetical, but that have happened, and are likely to happen. Using these sites you not only show students the power and importance of exponential growth and decay, you also inform them as global citizens and expose them to realistic problems and ideas that will need to be solved or explored in their lifetime or near future, which is arguably the essence of teaching.

 

 

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic? Note: It’s not enough to say “such-and-such is a great website”; you need to explain in some detail why it’s a great website.

The graphing applet found at mathwarehouse.com (referenced below) is extremely useful in extending student knowledge of the principles of exponential growth and decay. Using this for an activity can help students compare and contrast changing elements of the function without working separate (seemingly unrelated) examples on their own or in groups. Not only is the applet beneficial because you can graph several factors at a time, but you also have clear, graphical representation of the algebraic manipulations along side the algebra. This can be useful for students that learn visually or are ELLs. Activities can be easily carried out by projecting the applet onto a SMART board for full-class evaluation and discussion, having students perform exercises in groups and recording findings for notes, or even just helping students understand differences in homework problems, and hard to understand textbooks notation that are not making sense to students with verbal or written explanations. This being a free website students can access at home on their computer, smart phone, tablet, etc. can be resourceful to students that do not have a graphing calculator and can also be helpful to students as they work through problems independently and try to understand the behaviors of exponential growth and decay outside of the classroom. Because of the applet’s accessibility, aesthetic set up, and ease in manipulation, I recommend this as a useful technology resource both for the teacher and the student as they explore exponential growth and decay.

 

Pleather, D. (n.d.). Precalculus Lesson Plans and Work Sheets. Retrieved November 17, 2016, from http://www.pleacher.com/mp/mlessons/algebra/mm.html.

Document: M&M_GrowthDecayActivity

http://bigthink.com/think-tank/big-idea-technology-grows-exponentially

http://www.thatsreallypossible.com/exponential-growth/

http://www.mathwarehouse.com/exponential-growth-and-decay/interactive-exponential-graph-applet.php

 

 

Engaging students: Half-life

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 Brianna Horwedel. Her topic: working with the half-life of a radioactive element.

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

Half-Life of radioactive elements in Pre-calculus is generally used when introducing exponential decay. However, its main application is in the field of Chemistry and Archeology. If students go on to take any type of chemistry, they will definitely learn more about the half-life of radioactive elements and how long it takes to get rid of certain nuclear elements. The half-life of Carbon-14 is especially important in Archeology. Carbon-14 dating is a method used to determine the age of archeological artifacts of a biological origin using the half-life of Carbon-14. This process can date bone, wood, cloth, plant fibers, and more that are up to 50,000 years old. The way it works is as follows: as soon as a living organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon. The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 is the same as every living thing. However, when an organism dies, the carbon-14 starts decaying with its half-life of 5,700 years. The carbon-12 does not decay. When an organism is found, they look at the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 to determine the age based on the half-life of carbon-14.

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

I think this topic lends itself nicely to a project. Firstly, I would come up with several half-lives and place them in a bowl. Each student would pick a half-life and have to make up an element. Using poster-board, they would give a brief description of what their element is and then create a graph illustrating their particular half-life. They would then present it to the class explaining how they graphed their line and what equation they used. They could also include a table of input and output values. This would be a great refresher on graphing exponential decays along with allowing a little creativity. I think the students would have a lot of fun with this type of project.

 

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How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

I found this really great web-site (https://jeopardylabs.com/play/exponential-growth-decay) that has an exponential growth and decay form of Jeopardy. It allows you to pick how many teams there are and then it sets up a Jeopardy board. This would be a really fun way to review at the end of a unit over exponential growth and decay. To make the students more engaged, I would offer extra credit to the team with the highest score at the end. Because it is in a game form, students are more likely to pay attention to this type of review.

 

Applying Science to Speed Training

I enjoyed this surprising (well, surprising to me) application of exponential functions: training sprinters and other runners.

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 82

In this series, I’m compiling some of the quips and one-liners that I’ll use with my students to hopefully make my lessons more memorable for them.

In differential equations, we teach our students that to solve a homogeneous differential equation with constant coefficients, such as

y'''+y''+3y'-5y = 0,

the first step is to construct the characteristic equation

r^3 + r^2 + 3r - 5 = 0

by essentially replacing y' with r, y'' with r^2, and so on. Standard techniques from Algebra II/Precalculus, like the rational root test and synthetic division, are then used to find the roots of this polynomial; in this case, the roots are r=1 and r = -1\pm 2i. Therefore, switching back to the realm of differential equations, the general solution of the differential equation is

y(t) = c_1 e^{t} + c_2 e^{-t} \cos 2t + c_3 e^{-t} \sin 2t.

As t \to \infty, this general solution blows up (unless, by some miracle, c_1 = 0). The last two terms decay to 0, but the first term dominates.

The moral of the story is: if any of the roots have a positive real part, then the solution will blow up to \infty or -\infty. On the other hand, if all of the roots have a negative real part, then the solution will decay to 0 as t \to \infty.

This sets up the following awful math pun, which I first saw in the book Absolute Zero Gravity:

An Aeroflot plan en route to Warsaw ran into heavy turbulence and was in danger of crashing. In desparation, the pilot got on the intercom and asked, “Would everyone with a Polish passport please move to the left side of the aircraft.” The passengers changed seats, and the turbulence ended. Why? The pilot achieved stability by putting all the Poles in the left half-plane.

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 42

In this series, I’m compiling some of the quips and one-liners that I’ll use with my students to hopefully make my lessons more memorable for them.

The function f(x) = a^x typically exhibits exponential growth (if a > 1) or exponential decay (if a < 1). The one exception is if a = 1, when the function is merely a constant. Which often leads to my favorite blooper from Star Trek. The crew is trying to find a stowaway, and they get the bright idea of turning off all the sound on the ship and then turning up the sound so that the stowaway’s heartbeat can be heard. After all, Captain Kirk boasts, the Enterprise has the ability to amplify sound by 1 to the fourth power.

Engaging students: Introducing the number e

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 Loc Nguyen. His topic, from Precalculus: introducing the number e.

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

To be able to understand where the number e is produced in the first place, students need to understand how compound interest is calculated.  Before introducing the number e, I will definitely create an activity for the students to work on so that they can eventually find the formula for compounding interest based on the patterns they produce throughout the process.  The compound interest formula is F=P(1+r/n)nt.  From this formula, I will again provide students a worksheet to work on.  In this worksheet, I will let P=1, r=100%, t=1, then the compound interest formula will be F=(1+1/n)n. Now students will compute the final value from yearly to secondly.

e1

When they do all the computation, they will see all the decimal places of the final value lining up as n gets big.  And finally, they will see that the final value gets to the fixed value as n goes to infinity.  That number is e=2.71828162….,e2

 

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How has this topic appeared in the news?

To help the students realize how important number e is, I would engage them with the real life examples or applications. There were some news that incorporated exponential curves. First, I will show the students the news about how fast deadly disease Ebola will grow through this link http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/09/18/349341606/why-the-math-of-the-ebola-epidemic-is-so-scary.  The students will eventually see how exponential curve comes into play. After that I will provide them this link, http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/22/exponential-growth-global-solar-pv-production-installation/, in this link, the article talked about the global population rate and it provided the scientific evidence that showed the data collected represent the exponential curve.  Up to this point, I will show the students that the population growth model is:

e3

Those examples above was about the growth.  For the next example, I will ask the students that how the scientists figured out the age of the earth.  In this link, http://earthsky.org/earth/how-old-is-the-earth, the students will learn that the scientists used Modern radiometric dating methods to calculate the age of earth.  At this time, I will show them radioactive decay formula and explain to them that this formula is used to determine the lives of the substances such as rocks:e4

 

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

To introduce to the students what the number e is, I will engage them with two videos. In the first video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFgod5tmLYY, the math song “e a magic number” will engage the students why it is a magic number.  While watching this clip, the students will be able to learn the history of e.  Also the students will see many mathematical formulas and expressions that contain e.  This will give them a heads up that they will see these in future when they take higher level math.  It is also pretty humorous of how Dr. Chris Tisdell sang the song.

In the second video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-MZumdfbt8, it explained why e is everywhere.  The video used probability and exponential function to illustrate the usefulness of e, and showed how e is involving in everything.  It gave many examples of e such as population, finance…  Also the video illustrates the characteristics of the number e and the function that has e in it.  Watching these videos will enhance students’ perception and understanding on the number e, and help them to see how important this number is.

Reference

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-MZumdfbt8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFgod5tmLYY

http://www.math.unt.edu/~baf0018/courses/handouts/exponentialnotes.pdf

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/22/exponential-growth-global-solar-pv-production-installation/

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/09/18/349341606/why-the-math-of-the-ebola-epidemic-is-so-scary

http://earthsky.org/earth/how-old-is-the-earth

 

Engaging students: Graphing exponential growth and decay functions

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 Irene Ogeto. Her topic, from Precalculus: graphing exponential growth and decay functions.

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic? Note: It’s not enough to say “such-and-such is a great website”; you need to explain in some detail why it’s a great website.

 

 

The Legend of the Chessboard is a famous legend that illustrates exponential growth. A courtier presented a Persian king with the chessboard and as a reward the courtier asked the king for a grain of rice in each square of the chessboard, doubling the amount in each new square. The king agreed and gave the courtier 1 grain of rice in the first square, 2 grains of rice in the second, four grains of rice in the third and so on. The king didn’t realize how rapidly the amount of grain of rice would grow in each square. This video would be a great way to engage the students into the topic at the beginning of the lesson. The Legend of the Chessboard shows how rapidly exponential functions can grow. After watching the video the students can try to guess or calculate the total number of grains of rice the courtier would get in the end. Afterwards, the students can then graph the exponential function.

 

The students can use this website to check their guess:

 

http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/jbchessgrain.htm

 

 

 

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

In order to explore graphing exponential growth and decay functions, the students could play a card sort matching game. The students will work in groups to play the card sort matching game. Some students will be given the graphs and have to use the points given to derive the equation. Some groups will be given the equations and have to create the graphs of the exponential functions. As a class, we will go over graphing exponential growth and decay functions and analyze the graphs. The students will be expected to identify the domain, range, asymptotes, y-intercepts and whether the graph is exponential growth or exponential decay. Also, we could explore how exponential functions compare to other functions that we previously studied. This is a great activity that can be used as review before an exam.

 

 

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

 

Exponential functions are used to model different real world scenarios involving population, money, finances, bacteria and much more. Students can use exponential functions in other courses such as Calculus, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Economics. In calculus, students explore differentiation and integration of exponential functions. Given the position of an object in exponential form, students can use Calculus to determine if the object will stop moving.  Newton’s Law of Cooling is an example in physics that demonstrates exponential decay. Compound interest is a major application of exponential functions in finances. Exponential population growth, carbon dating, pH and concentrations of drugs are other examples in math and science that can be modeled by exponential growth and decay functions. In addition, students explore logarithmic functions, the inverses of exponential functions. Being able to recognize and graph exponential growth and decay functions is an important concept that can help students’ in their future courses in math or science.

References:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3d0Y-JpRRg

http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/jbchessgrain.htm

http://www.shsu.edu/kws006/Precalculus/3.2_Applications_of_Exponential_Functions_files/3.2%20Applications%20of%20Exponential%20Functions%20(slides%204%20to%201).pdf