I am excited to be "switching gears" and starting a new unit today. We did the Victory Celebration activity which introduces students to the unit problem for Fireworks. I love that the activity asks students to sketch the situation - this gives students with an artistic flair the chance to "show off" in class! There are 4 questions in the activity so I had each group split up. In my 2nd block class I had groups of 4 so I told them to let 2 people sketch the situation while the other 2 started working on the other questions. This worked out well because there was not more than 1 or 2 students in each group who were interested in drawing.
Some groups took longer than others on their sketches so I had everyone who was finished to get a graphing calculator and showed them how to enter the height equation into the calculators. It was necessary to also talk about how to adjust the window for the graph. We played with the tracing features on the calculators in order to look at approximations for the maximum height and the time the rocket was in the air.
I pulled a piece of chart paper and started talking about sketching the graph on the chart paper so we could refer to it throughout the unit. This brought up a discussion about which quadrants were needed. We also talked about labeling the axes and how we needed to be careful about drawing the graph because we didn't know how to scale the axes until we knew the maximum height and the amount of time it took for the rocket to land. (This is when we started playing with the tracing feature on the calculator but we ran out of time.)
Also, we discussed what the height of the rocket was when time was 0 seconds and what the height of the rocket was when the rocket hit the ground. These concepts are common sense really but it takes a few seconds for the answers to "hit" them.
Another cool thing that happened today was that my 4th block came in excited about getting to draw in math class. They took so long with their sketches that we didn't get as far with our discussions...but it was worth seeing them so invested in the activity.
After writing this post today I had an afterthought. I know that many people may ask, "Why are you drawing in a math class?" I told the students today that when people in the "real world" have large problems or projects to solve they often draw sketches or models in order to visualize what is happening. I think it is neat that this activity leads the students to start with a sketch!