Friday, September 20, 2013

Playing Games, Part 1

I was really in awe earlier this week when local hero Christopher Danielson posted about sameness in his college algebra class.

Vending machines as functions is really intuitive.  And neat.  Easy to talk about their domains and ranges.  Easy to talk about their rules of assignments.

I was less excited about whether or not the change machine is a true identity function.  That's the topic that took over the comments, and frankly I'm getting bored writing about it.  Perhaps that's a personal shortcoming.

But as an IB Higher Level Math teacher about to put formal definitions on functions and then embark upon compositions and inverses, I thought, "I wonder if it's worth trying to relate vending machines to functions?"  "How can I bring this into my class?"  "Is there anything to be gained?" And, "How could we relate this in a way that's efficient, engaging, and relevant?"

And then the Brunswick Zone walked into my brain.
Turns out the BZ doesn't give out tokens tickets anymore.  (That's very 1995.)  They use a card now.

I had four days to turn this crackpot idea into something meaningful.

So today when we went over there to win points (the e-equivalent of tickets) and then prizes, I gave them this e-worksheet:

(This form is live, by the way, so feel free to contribute if you live near a Brunswick Zone.)

My verbal instructions were probably a bit simpler.

We want to build our collective intelligence about the transactions that occur at the BZ.  (Money to card, card to points, points to prize.)  Take as many pictures or videos as you can of the possibilities of each transaction so that we can collectively begin to understand them.

Well, maybe that wasn't simpler, not sure.

Bottom line is, we got a lot of cool information that will be useful, relevant, and enhance student understanding of functions.  Take this for example:

A lot of possibilities when it comes to putting money on a card.  A new card, by the way, costs $1.  So if I went with the $5 option, really I'd have to spend $6.

Ok, got my card and ready to go.

Off to the games.  I really rocked this one:


40 tickets is a good haul, that spin alone could have gotten me a Spongebob Squarepants ball.

All in all, I'm hoping we can pool our experiences to come up with some really cool questions.

What would a function look like for putting money onto a card?  The domain?  Range?  Rule of assignment?
What would the functions look like for getting points onto your card?
What about for turning points into prizes?
And then we have games like this?  You win the prize straight up, no points at all!  (I lost $4 trying to get a giant husky.)

And then there's this points, no prize!


If you're curious to see what images we've captured, check out our photo gallery.

I haven't written the lesson plan for Monday yet, but I believe I have plenty of raw materials.  Stay tuned for part 2.

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