Day 155 & 156: The Triplets of Cellville

I chose this Mathalicious lesson because we have not used circles enough in my geometry classes. We stared the school year with constructions, but haven’t used them much this semester and I wanted them to recall and extend prior learning. I also wanted students to gain more experience modeling real world scenario’s with mathematics & I thought this task would be engaging do to it’s relevance to students lives.  I started off showing the introductory video clip which is a news story of a woman explaining how photos taken with a cell phone include GPS data and how your cell phone records your location. I was surprised that ALL of my geometry students were furious at this video. They thought this lady was dumb for being surprised because “…everybody knows that you can turn on and off the location settings on your phone!” one student argued that if this woman in this video was her mother, she would be furious at her for being so clueless. It was great because it got very intense, and I had no idea how savvy students are with their cell phones. After this discussion died down students inevitably asked: “Wait, what are we doing today? Are we learning how to stalk people with their phones?” and “Mrs B, you are so weird.” Also “This is going to be awesome!” They were hooked.

I don’t want to describe the entire lesson in too much detail because I want you to support Mathalicious and their quality activities, but students constructed circles on a map to determine possible locations of a person in relation to a few cell towers. The lesson also discussed coverage vs locate-ability and students had to use estimation & area formulas in order to draw conclusions and also to determine and justify where they would add a cell tower in a city if they were in charge of making the decision. The only thing I would change for next school year is that I would modify the lesson to use our town and cell tower locations locally to make this more relevant and less hypothetical. Students were engaged and it was a good way to use student interest and incorporate modeling at the end of a school year when motivation is typically pretty low.

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