Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hot Dog Cookers

Last school year, while looking over my curriculum map, I came across my unit on conic sections.  The first question that crossed my mind was, "Why is this important to learn?"  In my entire life, I have never used conic sections unless I was teaching it.  It then became my mission to find a reason for my students to learn conic sections.

In my research I found parabolic solar cookers and I was hooked.  I ran the idea past my colleague, who teaches the same course and we immediately went to work.  During the last in-service day of the school year we constructed this solar cooker.  In the afternoon we purchased a pack of hotdogs and set out to see if this was an idea for our students.

After eating our HOT hot dog, we started to devise a plan in our heads, and "Hot Dog Day" was born. This May our pre-calc classes will be taking their cookers outside to cook, you guessed it, hot dogs.  

Have I done this yet?  No, but I was too excited to not tell you about it.  I will post again later but wanted to throw this out there now.
Currently our students are determining their focus point and just how exactly they are going to construct their cooker.  Our students are excited beyond belief and, for the first year in the history of teaching this class, they understand the importance of conic sections.  I too have found a reason to learn about them.
Now, I need a reason to make ellipses important....hmmm...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nora, nice blog -- love your ideas and your energy. Solar cookers: what a great idea. Sounds like you're introduced it in a way that really worked for your students. Other neat applications of conics: dish antennas (for example this build-your-own wifi antenna), planetary orbits (comets?), and whisper chambers...