Lessons in Units

CCSS UnitsHow should the winner of *The Biggest Loser* be chosen? Students compare pounds lost vs. percent lost, and analyze historical data to determine which method produces the fairest game.

How much Halloween candy should you eat? Students interpret graphs to compare the marginal enjoyment and total enjoyment of two siblings feasting on piles of Halloween candy and figure out how much pleasure you get (or don't) from eating more and more.

Could Inspector Javert have survived the fall? Students use quadratic models to determine how high the bridge was in *Les Misérables*, and explore the maximum height from which someone can safely jump.

How do you create simple video games? Students apply geometric transformations to build (and play) their own games.

How can you become popular on Instagram? Students use linear regression models and correlation coefficients to evaluate whether having more followers, posts, and hashtags actually make pictures more popular on Instagram.

What do squares reveal about the universe? Students learn about the Pythagoreans and explore how to square numbers and find square roots, confront the weirdness of irrational numbers, and discover what happens when people’s most fundamental beliefs are thrown into doubt.

How do we view and create objects in 3D? Using MRI images, students study the connection between objects and their cross sections to understand 3D printing, its benefits, and its risks.

Why do manmade objects look the way they do? Students analyze the symmetry of objects, use geometric reflections to construct symmetrical images of their own, and debate the nature of beauty and perfection.

How much of what you see is advertising? Students use decomposition to calculate the areas of irregularly shaped billboards from Times Square in 1938 and 2015 and describe how much of the visual field is occupied by advertisements.

What should teacher salaries be based on? Students will use and compare linear functions to analyze how teacher pay is currently determined, and decide whether they would give merit-based pay an A+ or failing marks.

How much should companies pay their employees? Students graph and solve systems of linear equations in order to examine the effects of wage levels on labor and consumer markets, and they discuss the possible pros and cons of increasing the minimum wage.

What makes for happy countries? Students interpret lines of best fit and correlation coefficients to determine what types of policy changes are most likely to positively impact a country’s well-being.

How should cities address excessive force by police? Students compare two distributions of complaints against police officers. They analyze the fraction of complaints that officers are responsible for and evaluate the effectiveness of policy proposals in each scenario.

Is there an upside to negative feelings? Students use integers to compare good and bad days and use absolute value to explore what happens when we reinterpret negative moments in a more positive light.

Have income distributions in the U.S. improved over time? Students compare percentages of total income earned by different subgroups of the working population and decide whether or not the “American Dream” is equally achievable by all Americans.