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ERIC Number: EJ768816
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Mar
Pages: 10
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0268-3679
Stealing from Physics: Modeling with Mathematical Functions in Data-Rich Contexts
Erickson, Tim
Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, v25 n1 p23-32 Mar 2006
In the course of a project to create physics education materials for secondary schools in the USA we have, not surprisingly, had insights into how students develop certain mathematical understandings. Some of these translate directly into the mathematics classroom. With our materials, students get data from a variety of sources, data that arise in real-world phenomena. Students find functions to model the data; these appear as curves on scatter plots. Through this, students learn about the phenomena, and also about the mathematics behind the functions. This is neither complicated nor particularly new [see, e.g., Hestenes, D. (1987) Toward a Modeling Theory of Physics Instruction. "American Journal of Physics," 55, 440-445 and Wells, M. Hestenes, D. and Swackhamer, G. (1995) A Modeling Method for high school physics instruction. "American Journal of Physics," 63, 606-619.]. Thus this paper focuses on some details. How do students model the data? In what ways do students find these tasks challenging? And why don't we already do this more commonly? The observations we make in this paper are conjectures based on observations of students in classrooms in the San Francisco, California area; documenting them more thoroughly is the object of ongoing research. In this paper, we will discuss how students do modeling, describe the search for meaning in the parameters (for example, the meaning of slope), and describe some of the problems students seem to have coordinating the data and the models.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; United States