This site provides users with seven class activities: “The Robotic Arm”, “Simulating Weightlessness”, “Space Vectors”, “Rendezvous for Two”, “Earth Can You Hear Me Now”, “The Lunar Lander – Ascending from the Moon”, and “Communications and the Lunar Outpost”. All these activities are parts of the main activity that is called “Exploring Space through Math” for the Pre Calculus class.
Type of Material:
Assignment (Class Activity)
This site is meant to be used for group work in a pre calculus class.
Requires the TI_Nspire for three of the activities.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Apply several topics from pre-calculus to NASA projects.
Target Student Population:
Students at colleges, universities and high schools who are taking pre calculus.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basics of functions, conics, parametric equations, vectors and trigonometry and experience with the TI_Nsprire calculator.
This site contains activities that can get students introduced to the NASA based applications of Pre Calculus. The applications that are included, for example modeling the communication time on a round trip journey to mars, will excite the student. The actual pictures of the NASA training center will bring to life some of the more mundane topics. There are captivating videos from NASA included also. Students are first introduced to the NASA work and then explore how to use what they are learning in their pre calculus class to create a model. The topics that are included such as finding the constants of a sin wave and working with vectors are in line with the pre calculus curriculum. There are seven separate activities included in the geometry module, each focusing on a different space exploration application.
Three 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.
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. This site contains a list of objectives for each activity and the step-by-step walkthrough that the activities come with are well written and very appropriate for what is covered in a Pre-Calculus Class.
If the class does not use the TI_Nspire calculator, it would take some work to modify the handouts for the three activities that require the TI_Nspire. 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. There will be very little work for an instructor to include these activities in a Pre-Calculus class.
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