Determine which of several models does a better job of describing the relationship between two quantitative variables.
Activity: How Close to the Finish Line Can You Get?
We modified an activity from Fawn Nguyen for this lesson. Students will be using the kids cars that wind up when you pull them back. At the end of the lesson, each group will bring their car to the racing line and try to get it as close as they can (without going over) to the finish line.
Each group collected data with their own car and then used the applet to find the best model (linear, quadratic, or exponential). Most groups settled on quadratic, with only a few using exponential. Once all the groups had finished choosing a model, the race distance was announced: 100 inches. Students then had to use their model to make a predicted pull back distance that would propel the car 100 inches (but not over). Some of our groups got very close to the finish line.
After some reflection, we think that starting the lesson by telling students about the goals for the end race will help them to see the value in picking the best model (to make the best predictions!). We are trying to promote more natural curiosity out of our students (like Dan Meyer).