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Applied Math Builds Vending Machines, Learns About Functions!

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5a0db966a16d5 Students work together to complete a graph.

Students work together to complete a graph.

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5a0db966a16d5 Student describes how math is related to Law Enforcement.

Student describes how math is related to Law Enforcement.

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5a0db966a16d5 These student-created vending machines help with understanding functions.

These student-created vending machines help with understanding functions.

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5a0db966a16d5 A student's poster describes how math is related to Auto Body.

A student's poster describes how math is related to Auto Body.

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5a0db966a16d5 Groups of students work on the 'Spaghetti Bridge' activity.

Groups of students work on the 'Spaghetti Bridge' activity.

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5a0db966a16d5 Student graphs of candy color distributions.

Student graphs of candy color distributions.

Are you tired of big math textbooks and daydreaming in class when you're teacher is just talking nonsense? This is where applied math comes in! There is no sitting behind a textbook and dozing off in class anymore. We do hands-on projects that transport us out of the normal classroom environment. We have made things like vending machines, mini golf courses and more.

When it came time to build our vending machines, we had to design and cut out shoe boxes to create a model of them. We used the simple idea of a vending machine, which we use in our everyday lives, and found how they are related to functions. When you walk up to a vending machine and press a certain button, you expect to get the item you wanted. When you press that same button again, you should get the same item every single time. That is what we call a working vending machine. Functions work the same way. For every number you plug into a function you should get a unique number back.

In this class, we’ve also built scale versions of mini golf courses. You may ask yourself how a mini golf course relates to math, but if you start to think back to basic geometry classes, the answer becomes obvious. As a builder creates a golf course, they have to think of the amount of area they need and the length that would fit in the space they have, as well as the measurements, shapes, and patterns that come along with it. Related to that is the amount of money certain areas will cost the builders.        

From our point of view, our class really loves to do hands-on work instead of just daydreaming. Applied math is not an ordinary math class that we see in our home schools. In our class, we use math skills in a real world context.

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