How to Solve Math Problems with Google Earth

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Last week I mentioned that one of my goals is to share more information about the technology enhanced projects in my classroom.  Well, this week I have something that is amazingly simple.  Its so simple I almost didn’t share it, but I think its a good example of how you can take something you already have and tweak it a little to make it more interesting for your students.  Each year in 8th grade science we have to cover speed problems, aka “rate problems,” to meet standards 8.1.b, 8.1.c, and 8.9.f

8.1.b: Students know that average speed is the total distance traveled divided by the total time elapsed and that the speed of an object along the path traveled can vary.

8.1.c: Students know how to solve problems involving distance, time, and average speed.

8.9.f: Apply simple mathematic relationships to determine a missing quantity in a
mathematic expression, given the two remaining terms (including speed = dis­tance/time, density = mass/volume, force = pressure × area, volume = area × height).

Some years I find kids really have this skill under their belt from math class and other years I find that students who struggle in this area.  The 8th grade science CST is loaded with speed problems.  In some cases students have to calculate the rate and in other problems they have to find time or distance.  The second type of problem bewilders many 8th graders.  In order to identify who needs a little extra practice my students and I spend some time solving rate problems, usually on a worksheet.  This year I wanted to do something different and try to have more of a real-world connection to the problems, so my students are going to use Google Maps and Google Earth to solve the problems.  Here is a link to the worksheet I created (GoogleEarthRateProblems).  As you can see in most of the problems students have to use one of these two pieces of software to find the distance portion of the equation.  We’ll see how it goes.  The fun starts 4th period today!

Joe

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