Three Act Balls

So today I used one of Dan Meyer‘s Three Act Maths Tasks (This one to be precise).

I had a view of the task and how I wanted things to go. I even prepped a little worksheet (pics to follow) to get them to predict before they dove in and messed around.

I had the Act One clip running on loop as they came in, which provoked a lot of nice questions:

“What angle is there?” – cue clarification over which angle where; he meant the initial angle of projection (not that we called it that”

“How many balls?” – I told them they could count that for themselves later when they watched the vid again

“How many more balls will there be?” – Predictions? This got left behind, it would have been nice to use this as the basis for some sort of gradient discussion?

“What is that guy carrying? Is it a flamethrower?” – I decided it was probably some sort of Pesticide spray; maybe I will ask Dan about it!

“How fast is the ball moving?” – Again, this got lost – I may use this as a motivation for some calculus with another class.

“Why are there so many balls?” – We talked about video composition and the like

All this happened in the first 5-10 mins, before someone (finally) asked if Dan managed to score.

So we decided to find out. I was really pleased the students suggested drawing the graph, and went to introduce the Geogebra file, handily loaded on the shared area ready to go, along with the video clips from the Act 1s.

Turns out we don’t have Geogebra installed on student computers, only staff machines.


So, I frantically wondered what I could do and asked if our department laptops had Geogebra on them, and one of my colleagues reminded me of a handy feature in Autograph that does pretty much the same thing. Cue a crash course for the kids in using the constant controller and me setting up Autograph files as they work on the first task!

Phew. Close one.

We managed to get some equations fitted to the paths of the balls and make some predictions on whether Dan could score, then checked them with the final results.

One interesting outcome was the two very similar equations that led the students to opposite conclusions. (pics to follow)

We wrapped up by watching the final few clips to see if Dan scored and I sent them off with an exam question to see if the task helped their understanding of the characteristics of quadratics.

I’m sure I had more to say that will come back to me when I upload the photos and screenshots.


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