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Discussion: Traffic Jam Applet tool
Topic: "Graphing Calculator" Software
Related Item: http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool/10/


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Subject:   Optimization Problems
Author: Gene
Date: Nov 6 2003
I'm doing optimization and have found tools which nicely illustrate some of the
classic problems. In class I went over the longest ladder you can carry around a
corner and was very pleased with the Longest Ladder applet,
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool.html?&new_id=1402. I set it up so the
dimensions matched those of the example in our book and then tried ladders a bit
too short and too long. It seemed to motivate folks.

I've assigned problems corresponding to the following as well, and will give
students these references:

The fastest route through the desert and along the road to a town
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool.html?&new_id=1403

The Shortest Ladder over a Fence
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool.html?&new_id=1404

Area of a Rectangle Inscribed in a Semicircle
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool.html?&new_id=1401

All these are applets from Larry Husch and Marek Szapiel's Visual Calculus
Project. They seem to add a visceral dimension to the problems, and make them
more interesting to the students. I'm not sure whether they add much to student
understanding, but motivation should be enough—this is a notoriously hard part
for many students.
 



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