Wednesday, July 30, 2014

San Diego Conversions

I was in San Diego, California the past few days doing the whole San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld thing with the family. We had a great time, but that's not the point of the post. There were definitely a handful of opportunities to capture some math moments, but I've found it more important to contain myself (mathematically) when I'm with family and make the most of our time together. Here are the two things I captured and want to share.

Number 1: 
We were waiting to board the Wild Arctic Ride (virtual helicopter ride) at SeaWorld and watched this video. There were subtitles in Spanish for our spanish-speaking (reading) friends. However, they go along with the helicopter pilot.

Here's Act 1:

When I saw the the number behind the black box, I thought, "Is that right? Is 400 miles per hour really ### kilometers per hour?"
Are they correctly converting for our Spanish speaking friends? It turns out that 400 miles per hour is about 643.7 kilometers per hour.

Here's act 3:

What do you think? Should I keep the black box there? Should I delete it?
I feel this is one of those moments where I don't insert a black box and we simply ask students:
Is 400 miles per hour really 600 kilometers per hour?
I'm curious about students arguing about this one? or would they even care?
What difference would 40 kilometers per hour make?
Where do you stand, on any of it?

Number 2: 
The great thing about San Diego is there are tons of people from many different places of the world. San Diego has an international airport and many places of interest besides SeaWorld and the zoo to contribute to this melting pot. I loved listening to all the different languages being spoken throughout the day. Therefore, it didn't surprise me when I walked into the pool area for the first time on our trip and noticed a few interesting things. I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be to use these in any math classroom, specifically Math 6. The first thing you see as you enter the pool area is the jacuzzi. I couldn't help but notice the depth:
Okay class, check this conversion. It ends up making sense and I appreciate the use of meters for pretty much everyone outside of the United States. Seriously, I simply have such a hard time understanding why the United States uses inches, feet, yards, miles, etc. I digress.

Here's the (very shallow) pool:
Let's look a little closer at the depth signs around the pool. The deepest part of the pool is 4 feet or 1.2 meters. Okay class, check this conversion. Looks pretty legit, right?
So, if you saw a depth sign with 3.5 feet, what would you put the meters conversion at? How would you order these pictures with your students? Which would you present first? second? third? or would you give them all to your students at the same time? Would you cover up one of the measurements (like feet) and only show them one measurement so they work on finding the conversion. Here's the 3.5 ft depth sign.

Okay, if you do the conversion, 3.5 feet is 1.0668 meters. Obviously, someone was following their rounding rules. A few questions pop into mind here:
Should we round up?
Would it be wiser to round to 1 meter?
How much of a difference does roughly 4 centimeters make?
Could they not use a slightly larger tile and put 1.07 meters?
These questions aren't the only questions, nor the most profound, but I'm still curious.

There's one more crazy thing about this pool I had to capture and share. How did they get away with this? 
Look closely. Inside the pool is a depth of 4 feet (1.1 meters). Outside the pool is a depth of 3.5 feet (1.1 meters). WHAT?!!! Now reflecting, I should have had my wife take a picture of me next to the sign to get the water level and measure how deep it actually is here. I don't know about you, but 6 inches is definitely more significant than the 4 centimeters we discussed earlier.
At what point does an error like this matter significantly enough to change it? 6 inches? 2 inches? 12 inches? and in what direction: shallower or deeper?

How would you use any of these images or video in your class to help facilitate discussions or arguments regarding conversions?

SD conversions,

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