Speed Limit-Predicting Performance

Version 1

    This lesson is framed by the questions: Is there a limit to how fast a person can skate (or run)? If so, how can you predict it mathematically? By analyzing data from Olympic races over time, students explore the connection between the common and mathematical meaning of the limit concept.


    Students will:

    1. Know how to use spreadsheet (e.g., Microsoft Excel*) tools to graph Olympic race data
    2. Understand how to analyze the "shape" of a data set and match it to the "shape" of a basic function
    3. Be able to modify standard function equations to adjust basic graphs vertically, horizontally, stretch, and/or compress
    4. Be able to determine the equation of best fit (given a set of ordered pairs generated by real race phenomenon) by considering the characteristics (e.g., increasing/decreasing) and parameters (e.g., limit as x approaches infinity) of the context of the data set (automatic function of "best fit" tools do not necessarily take parameters like limits into consideration)