Smithsonian Commons

I got an email asking me to view the “Teacher” video describing what will eventually be the Smithsonian Commons.  The Teacher video seemed to describe a repository for instructional resources created by the Smithsonian.  These would be pictures, videos, maybe audio files, and I don’t know what else.  It occurred to me that such a place would be great for videos of math phenomena.  I really wanted to use the oil spill video in the calc classes, but never found a way.  Videos that are not obviously about math could serve just as well, with enough analysis and accompanying materials.  The trick is to find video of things that can be readily described by K-12 math.  I have found, in my short foray into real-life-as-math, that students are much more tolerant of weird decimals and complicated formulas when there is something tangible or visible to back the numbers up.  But there is a limit to conics, parabolas, lines, and simple sinusoids.

The question, “how will we ever use this in real life?” is after all merely a rephrasing of, “where did these numbers come from?”


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