Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Getting Ready for Naka Kon and Geometry Lessons for Circles

Naka Kon 2011 is this weekend in Kansas city and I've been ridiculously busy preparing!

My biggest project for it has been the new version of my Anime Mythbusters panel. Every year for Naka, I prepare a few new segments and drop a few old ones. This year, I'm adding a section on the physics of Pokeballs, the effects of standing anywhere near a certain Pokemon who supposedly has a body temperature that's twice as hot as the surface of the sun, and lastly, the potential for having planets habitable for human life around red giant stars. These three topics have taken the better part of a year for me to work out so finally getting to present this is going to be a huge weight off my shoulders. I can't wait!

Additionally, I'm giving two other talks. The first is the "How not to give a crappy panel" panel, which is exactly what the name describes. The second is a discussion about character motivations and relationships in the Gurren Lagann series. These aren't nearly as labor intensive, so I've pushed them off quite a bit, and now I'm down to the wire!

The other huge stress is that I have to take a few days off of teaching which means I need to make sure to have material ready for a substitute which will likely be someone that's not terribly good with their math. So it needs to be self contained enough that students can reasonably do it on their own. Also, we're on block scheduling so the classes are 140 minutes long. So the projects need to really be time intensive, but not so complex they can't do them.

This wasn't too hard for my Algebra 1 class. I'm totally stealing the styrofoam cup stacking project from dy/dan's blog.

The challenge was coming up with something for my geometry class. Right now we're working on circles. Arcs, chords, angles, etc.... I looked and looked for some kind of project that would be suitable, but there's absolutely nothing out there that directly pertains to the material we've learned. So I did some inventing.

One of the most common things for students to do with circles is make pie charts. But this is exceptionally simple: Convert the percentages of responses for each answer to a percent of 360ยบ and just measure off those angles with a protractor. No real math there besides conversion factors, which isn't geometry.

So to force some geometry into the mix, I've taken away the protractors and made them use a bit of geometry to relate those angles to chords which they can measure with the much more common rulers! I'll post the assignment sheet later, but man, what a pain in the ass to come up with a pertinent project. You'd think that with all the teaching blogs and resource sites, there would be some kind of projects out there for circles, but I guess most teachers just hate them as much as I do!

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