Mr. Stadel posted a challenge on his blog today asking us to remake a quadratic bridge problem. Sure, I thought, how hard can this be? I've never done a makeover, but I teach this stuff!
That was about two hours ago. That's right, I spent about two hours tinkering with ideas, doing Google image searches, revising ideas, scouring Google again, putting the document together, choosing a video clip, and having all those internal dialogues I have when I'm planning. For one problem.
My thought process went somewhat like this. Please excuse the disorder of my thoughts!
1. I need a problem with multiple solutions. Not something where anyone can say, "Yes, 8 feet 3 inches is correct." Let's make this an open-ended question.
2. I need a problem that makes students feel like the answer is important. I live close to a very large bridge that is frequently the subject of controversy because of tolls, heavy traffic, accidents, and the like. The students I teach often have parents who commute across this bridge daily. My community is also very fortunate to have abundant water access, so lots of kids spend time with their families out on the water. Therefore, my students would be at least somewhat invested in the idea of having a safe bridge and safe boating practices. I also expect they'll have a good bit of background knowledge to bring to this scenario.
3. Time to find images. Lots of Google searching until I found pictures I liked.
4. I wanted the bridge picture to be straight on so the kids could do measurements with it (and maybe superimpose a graph on it with our TI-Nspires if I'm feeling super tech-savvy and manage to be free from crazy glitches). I ended up choosing the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy because the picture was workable and I've been there so I can add a few fun anecdotes in, possibly even a personal picture if I have one.
5. Tides? Yikes, I do not really know much about them other than that locally we have two high and low tides each day. But...I'm pretty sure that they learn at least a bit about them in science class. Something we can explore together and a good place for data collection. This is the bit that will give us some variations in our answers.
6. What's an appropriate clearance? The video shows that ship coming closer than I could imagine.
All that thinking, and here's what I ended up with. Like I said, this is my first "makeover," so I'd love to know what you think!