Fishes

I haven’t taught linear programming since I was student teaching, and I was dreading doing it again.  It’s kind of a slog.  There are a bunch of steps that have to be taken in a certain order.  So I wanted to get into it in a natural way with a set-up that would naturally lead them into something akin to linear programming.

Most of the problems that I ran into were so extremely dull.  I just don’t think teenagers are very gripped by calculator sales.  I ended up using something that was not that amazing, but that I thought could at least be presented simply.

Especially because I enjoyed this little picture:

Here’s the website:

http://www.learner.org/courses/teachingmath/grades9_12/session_03/section_04_a.html

I wanted to go the whole 9 yards and get some real information.  Like, find a map of a pond and find the area, and somehow get some real dirt on the fish.  But then I only had about an hour before my bedtime so I didn’t get too crazy.  I got some weird looking fish pictures.  I wasn’t able to find a real life picture that naturally asked a question about linear programming.  But I at least succeeded in asking the question with a couple of different pictures, rather than a huge chunk of text.

Here’s the handout that I made up:

So the reason that I love my students is that they pointed out every flaw in my story:

-don’t we have to save room for newborn fishes?

-if there’s going to be a derby, who cares if they have enough room for breeding?

It has been going pretty well.  I threw the problem at them with no further explanation.  Some kids dug into some cool stuff immediately, making equations based on the information about how much space the fish needed and solving systems of those equations.

I also introduced graphing systems of inequalities on day 2, and showed them an example of linear programming on day 3.  (Which was cool because they were very much asking me how this related to their question — craving that connection immediately.)  Now they pretty much have the answer, and on their own time, they’ll write up a letter telling the fishing derby officials how to stock the fishing pond.  This will be their unit project.

Here’s how I’ll be grading it:

I’ll put up one of their letters when they’re finished …

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