This site provides users with six class activities: “The NBL Pool”, “Oh Chute!”, “It All Comes Full Circle”. “An Astronaut in Motion”, “Next Generation Spacecraft”, and “Lunar Rover”. These activities are all parts of the main activity that is called “Exploring Space through Math” for the Geometry class.
Type of Material:
Assignment (Class Activity)
This site is meant to be used for group work in a geometry class.
Requires the TI_Nspire for two of the activities.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Apply geometric formulas, scaling, transformations and the Pythagorean Theorem to NASA projects.
Target Student Population:
Students at colleges and universities and middle and high school students who have basic skills in geometry.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basics of geometry and experience with the TI Nsprire calculator.
This site contains activities that can get students introduced to the NASA based applications of Geometry. Grounding geometry in real world applications as captivating as manned space missions and lunar stations is a great way for students to learn geometry. The actual pictures of the NASA training center will bring to life some of the more mundane algebra topics. There are captivating videos included also. Students are first introduced to the NASA work and then explore how to use what they are learning in their geometry class to create a model. Students will explore geometric formulas, scaling, transformations and the Pythagorean Theorem as they learn about how engineers design spacecraft and plan missions on the ISS and the moon. There are six separate activities included in the geometry module, each focusing on a different space exploration application.
The two of the activities rely on the TI_Nspire. Since all of the technology is also available for free online, it would have been better to have an alternate technology option. Also, one of the activities is about the space shuttle and is dated.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This site does an excellent job in taking both the instructor and the student through the activities. Having both a teacher page and a student page makes for easy preparation. The site contains a list of objectives for each activity and the step-by-step walkthrough that the activities come with are well written.
If the class does not use the TI_Nspire calculator, it would take some work to modify the handouts. Giving alternating options for TI Nspire calculator would give the teacher the flexibility to use the handout depending on the specific classes.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Students can access the PDF or have a printout. The instructions are laid out in a way that the instructor and the student will have no confusions while they are using this activity. The pictures integrated with the text work well together along with the excitement of NASA explorations to appeal to most students. The activities come with a worksheet for the students to fill out that is laid out in an understandable manner. The site provides a solution key for each class activity which makes it easy to use by both the teacher and student to compare their solutions with the author’s solution.
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