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Writing Problems for Solution with Technology. Dr. Steve Armstrong LeTourneau University Longview, TX. SteveArmstrong@letu.edu. Welcome to Texas. Words of Wisdom from Texas. Always drink upstream from the herd. Words of Wisdom from Texas.

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Writing Problems for Solution with Technology

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Writing problems for solution with technology

Writing Problems for Solution with Technology

Dr. Steve ArmstrongLeTourneau UniversityLongview, TX


Welcome to texas

Welcome to Texas

Words of wisdom from texas

Words of Wisdom from Texas

  • Always drink upstream from the herd.

Words of wisdom from texas1

Words of Wisdom from Texas

  • The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

Words of wisdom from texas2

Words of Wisdom from Texas

  • Never order chicken fried steak in a restaurant without a juke box.

Words of wisdom from texas3

Words of Wisdom from Texas

  • Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

Words of wisdom from texas4

Words of Wisdom from Texas

  • Don't squat with your spurs on.

Writing problems for solution with technology1

Writing Problems for Solution with Technology

Dr. Steve ArmstrongLeTourneau UniversityLongview, TX


Necessity of technology

Necessity of Technology

  • Messy numbers

  • Functions that are difficult to graph

  • Varieties of regression

    • seek to find an appropriate modeling function

  • Multiple views of a problem

    • graphical

    • numerical

    • symbolic

    • textual



  • Develop students' abilities to think mathematically

  • Need for good judgment about mathematical claims

    • advertisers

    • government

    • media

  • Problems should …

    • require thought and analysis

    • development ability to communicate results

Sources for problems

Sources for Problems

  • World Almanac

    • population figures

    • finance figures

    • sports results

  • Amusement parks

    • physics

    • motion

    • business strategies

Sources for problems1

Jail Releases Upset Judges

Sources for Problems

  • World Wide Web

    • science news

    • graphs

    • "off the wall" facts

  • Interesting quotes

  • Warning: take care lifting questions from existing text books

Writing the questions

Writing the Questions

  • Begin with statements that grab the students' interest

    • "Recent evidence of skin cancer caused by excessive sun exposure has made us aware of the intensity of the sun. When might be the best/worst time of day to soak up sun?"

    • "A TV satellite dish service has hired you as a consultant to determine the best price for the initial fees for their dish and receiver."

    • "Consider a recent e-mail hoax about Bill Gates. People who participated in a pyramid e-mail experiment would be eligible for the prize of a trip to Disney World."

Writing the questions1

Writing the Questions

  • Two possible approaches:

    • Present total task in detail, students come up with all of solution

    • Lead students through derivation of intermediate formulas, functions, relationships

  • Occasionally state questions a bit loosely

    • Real life problems are rarely accurately and succinctly stated

  • Ask for preliminary guesses, reassessment

Use a variety of viewpoints

Can give clues as to the window required to graph a function

Use a Variety of Viewpoints

  • Numeric

    • tables of values

    • dimensions

    • distances

    • profit, loss

  • View results of graphs

    • max, min, roots, intersections

    • combining functions (arithmetically, composition)

Use a variety of viewpoints1

Use a Variety of Viewpoints

  • Symbolic representation

    • manipulated with technology

    • enables proofs

    • necessary for communication

  • Pictures, diagrams

    • for description of original problem

    • may be to scale or purposefully generic

    • may be required as part of solution

Describe solutions

Describe Solutions

  • Written format

    • require full sentences

    • well formed paragraphs

    • labeled diagrams

  • Verbal presentations

    • use of visuals

    • encourage presentation technology

  • Post web pages

Problem categories

Problem Categories

  • Find real data

    • plot the data points

    • use regression for a modeling function

  • Given two functions graphed together, what questions can be asked?

Problem categories1

Problem Categories

Use Parametric Equations

  • Model objects moving on the graph as a function of time

    • straight line, spirals, circular



Problem categories2

Problem Categories

Use parametric equations

  • Model two objects that must (not) meet

  • Measure distance between the moving objects

Levels of problems

Levels of Problems

  • Usually we do not write our own homework questions

  • More likely to write test questions

    • write them to require technology

  • Also write project questions

    • for a one day exercise

    • for a long term

    • for groups or for individuals

Group project management

Group Project Management

  • Best to assign the groups

    • randomize and manually alter as needed

  • Assign locations for group gathering

  • Assign one person to be the "scribe" who will record the official results

  • Provide a handout that precisely describes the task to be performed, problem to be solved

Project grading

Project Grading

  • Instructor should

    • carefully read the handout

    • note specific answers asked for

    • assign values to be awarded

    • create a grading checklist

  • Inform students how grade is weighted in relation to total term grade

  • Award bonus points for …

    • extra elegance portions of the problem

    • early or first submission

A project for this workshop

A Project for this Workshop

A problem for solution with technology concerning a rollercoaster.

Roller coaster questions

Roller Coaster Questions

  • Which is the best seat?

    • see better in front seat

    • pull higher g's in back (100 feet from front)

  • Millennium Force facts

    • 310 foot high hill (300 foot drop)

    • first hill 80° angle

    • 92 mph max

    • track length 6595 feet

    • ride takes 2:45

    • Facts about the Millennium Force

Roller coaster questions1

Roller Coaster Questions

  • What comparisons/contrasts can you make?

Roller coaster questions2

Roller Coaster Questions

  • The newest coasteris 420 feet high

  • Goes from 0 to 120 mph in 4 sec

  • More Facts

Your task

Your Task …

  • Write a problem that requires technology for its solution

  • Use whatever portion of the facts about the ride that you choose

  • Try to use/require all of symbolic, numeric, graphic, textual expressions

  • Lead students through solution steps

  • Final objective must be clearly stated

  • Suggest enrichment/elegance pursuits

  • Specify level: algebra, precalc, calculus



  • Gather in groups of 4 – 5 people

  • Person in group with first letter of family name closest to end of alphabet is the scribe

  • Write up your problem

  • Another group will use checklist to evaluate your submission

F y i


  • Technology used:

    • Ink Link pen, by Seico

  • This presentation available (PowerPoint and Web versions) at

    • web2\index.htm

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