Physics in the Mathematics Curriculum Summary

Monday, July 1, 2002

Introductions: Sue Mussach, Trish Cato, Shireen Dadmehr, Victoria Siroy, Brian Hopkins, Nicholas Savatore, Steve Jackson, Pat Cannon

Discussed our objective: open ended at present, by the end of today, we hope to have a focus if not stated objective, for our efforts here through these three weeks.

Problem and Activity How many pinto beans do we need to purchase to fill our meeting room (coalition 4)? Broke into two groups collected data on room size, plan, etc.

Answer: 4.34 x 108 beans +/- 2141000 beans


  • What effect does miscounting 2 beans per 100 cubic centimeters?
  • What effect does mismeasuring length by 1 cm have on entire answer?
  • What effect does mismeasuring length and width by 1 cm have?
  • What effect does mismeasuring length and width and height by 1 cm have?
  • What other factors may effect the accuracy of your answer?
  • How certain are you of your answer?
  • Penny toss activity is another example of uncertainty of answer (Pat Canon has)
  • Where should you spend your most time and effort in measuring (counting beans, measuring lengths)?

Assessment of Activity: Rubric???

What mathematics does this activity require of students?

  • Precision, accuracy, uncertainty
  • Estimation (that doesn=t sound right)
  • Area and volume formulas
  • Trigonometry
  • Scientific notation
  • Problem solving
  • Real life application
  • Geometry

What students can complete this activity?

  • Geometry
  • Perhaps prealgebra

Discuss the group dynamics of your experience.

  • How did you feel when ...?
  • What would you do differently if you were repeating this activity?
  • How does group activity affect assessment?

Where are we going in our working group?
Our purpose is to provide some resource to mathematics teachers. Ideas:

  • Using physics as a context to present and study the concept of function (linear, quadratic, logarithmic, inverse, power, etc.) Create activities with simple materials to develop and demonstrate functional relationships. Something to keep in mind: create activities which can be approached from a variety of levels (elem. algebra, honors algebra, etc.)
  • Physics the middle school mathematics teacher needs to know.
  • Physics the high school mathematics teacher needs to know.
  • Develop a set of problem of the week from physics which allows students problem solving experiences tied to mathematics curriculum.
  • What do physics teachers do in teaching that drives mathematicians crazy?
  • What do mathematicians teachers do in teaching that drives physicists crazy?

- Steve Jackson

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under DMS-0940733 and DMS-1441467. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.