Last week the freshmen started a new unit based upon The Pit and the Pendulum. The first day was spent reading and discussing an excerpt from the story. Poe is a tough read. It can be especially confusing if you’re not sure if Poe is the red Teletubby or the purple one.

Anyway… I really like this unit. The cherubs are making conjectures about what affects the period of a pendulum. They design and conduct experiments. In analyzing the data we talk about controlled experiments, measures of central tendency (including a nice exploration into standard deviation), and curve fitting.

There are a few reasons this is one of my favorite units. I think this is the first time many of them are exposed to normal curves and standard deviation, so that’s always fun (well, to me anyway). The best part is that *they* are *doing* in this unit. *They* make conjectures. *They* design the experiments. *They* analyze the data.

My goal is to find the right balance between guiding and staying out of their way.

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Hi Jackie

This is music to my ears:

they are doing in this unit. They make conjectures. They design the experiments. They analyze the data. My goal is to find the right balance between guiding and staying out of their way.If only more math instructors would take such an approach – and you are getting them to conjecture over real things.

Speaking of curve fitting, you may be interested in Earth killer – composite trigonometry CO2 graph. Modeling is fun – you actually observe details in the data a lot more closely than if you just take a cursory look at the graph.

Hey Zac-

I saw your post on the trig modeling, nice stuff. I’ve got a post in the works about some of the work we’ve been doing in this unit. I’d love your feedback.

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