Friday, November 16, 2012

Superhero Transformations -- Hands-On STEM Project

Mathematical Swagg Power Up!
The first-ever 21st Century Math Project Blog poll winner is now an official 21st Century Math ProjectTurn your Geometry, Algebra 2 or Pre-Calculus classroom into Superhero City while teaching the useful skills of tranformations. Specifically focusing on translations and reflections, heroes paired with a specific mathematics function family, have to zap enemies all over the coordinate grid into submission to save their city. Students will use cutouts of functions to turn this into a hands-on math project that will serve many different types of learners and plays into their childhood superhero infatuations!

Name: Superhero Transformations
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Geometry & Pre-Calculus skills)
Math Concepts: Transformations, Translation, Reflection, Families of Functions
Interdisciplinary Connections: Comics, Art
Teaching Duration: 3-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $6 for a 25 Page PDF (4 assignments and answer key) 
PDF Version: Superhero Transformations @ TPT (Download the Preview to see everything for FREE)

The Product: Students complete a series of tasks that culminate in taking down the mysterious Big Boss Villain. Can be expanded to creating a Pixton Comic (not provided)!

Hey Kid, put down that printer.
BOOM! POW! WHAMO! If those words remind you of your 7th Period Class, I... think you should find another blog regarding classroom management. If those words remind you of the hours you'd spend trying to hunt down that elusive Magneto action figure this might be perfect for you. If your kids dig comics and comic-book movies. This might be perfect for them! I've noticed a comic book renaissance of sorts in the school hallway especially with the awesomeness of the Avengers. 

One of the things that I do that many would consider unconventional is that before I teach how to manipulate any non-linear functions (square roots, exponentials etc.), I teach families of functions and transformations. I think this breaks down students intimidation of long equations with these different functions in them, it makes them more accessible and helps them understand that in many respects, they work the same. 

Does this mean I won't feel like I want to
disappear from class for a few days?
Are we actually going to do
something challenging?
In this project, I have assembled a dynamic mathematical superhero team where each hero has a different power that behaves like a different function. Heroes with Linear, Quadratic, Exponential, Cubic, Square Root and Absolute Value functions are stars of the show. There are a couple special guest appearances from the villains. 

No hero with a Wolfhead?
I'm slightly put off by the omission.
In creating this project, it was critical to me that it's not just glitz and glamor, but there truly is a bunch of hardcore mathematics at its core. I feel I have created something that authentically teaching translations and reflections and will serve both ends of the classroom. By creating functions that can be cut-out, this will make the tasks hands-on and accessible for all learners. By creating wicked challenging scenarios, the most advanced students will be enriched with the puzzle that the later problems create. By creating colorful, amusing heroes and villains, the most difficult to engage will be grabbed. 

EXTENSION: Perhaps there can be a comic book assignment that emerges that uses solid math jokes. Don't use class time for this. I'm begging you. Maybe a weekend extra credit assignment. :-)

So here it is, the 21st Century Math Project for the peeps. Hopefully you dig. I'll be setting up a little challenge for the blog followers tomorrow to give away a free copy! Keep you eyes open.

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