Globicephala Algebra

Globicephala Algebra

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Globicephala Algebra

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Precalculus Is A Whale of a Good Time!

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Cetacean Creation Yields Curve Verve

Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki students recently noticed Science Fellow Kyle Wonser helping some visiting Outdoor Classroom students assemble a pilot whale skeleton. “Why can’t we do that?” they asked.

Math teacher Katie Curtis heard them. “I thought to myself, how could I make that relate to math?” she says. “I came up with the idea that they could figure out an equation to best fit the spine of the pilot whale.” She borrowed the skeleton for her precalculus class and the students spent a couple of hours in the Ellis Room fitting bones together and then determining the most appropriate equation to describe the spine’s curve using graphing software.

“I love opening my students’ eyes to the math around them,” says Curtis. “They made fascinating connections between the different functions we’ve looked at this semester and the skeleton. It was fun watching their ‘Aha!’ moments as I they connected math to this hands-on activity.”