Day 66: Racecar Math

I didn’t have good feelings about only spending two days on the slope equation in algebra. I had originally planned to print off a few Pizzazz worksheets and spend another day practicing. I didn’t feel good about that either.

Instead I looked over at my bookshelf and saw the remote control monster truck I bought last year. It ended up being a good move…

photo 2 (2)
Old picture… my desk is not this organized.

Both Dan and Andrew have posted about this sort of review. I tweaked it a bit and used it as a way of getting students to practice a concept more without the monotony of back to back days of book work and worksheets.

I picked this up from Target for $14.99 last year.

IMG_0444After our opener I threw this up on the board


I explained there were two types of problems; individual and group, each slide would indicate the type of problem. For group problems they would work on the large whiteboards on their desks.

I gave students about a minute for each problem, once they had an answer they stood up. Only one person from each group could be standing at a time.


I paced around, looking at students work. After the timer I read out all the answers I saw and called up the standing students with the correct answers to drive the car. Those who were incorrect worked with their groups to correct the mistake.

Students drove the car in a 25 foot L shape the ended with this:


Each box was worth points equal to its number. If they back the car into the box it was worth double points.

All my students were on board today. The only downside to this is we spent about equal time driving the car as we did doing math. I will fine tune the process in the future.

Best part of the day… Geometry came in begging to drive the car today. They had been hearing about it all day I guess.


3 thoughts on “Day 66: Racecar Math

  1. I also was surprised about where this went. After the picture of your bookshelf, I was thinking maybe there was a question related to the slope of the front supports of the bookshelf. From the rc car, I thought it was maybe going to be an investigation into the max slope that the car can climb and what sort of failure sets in at that point (just dead stop or the car tips over). Of, maybe an investigation of slopes as jumps?


  2. Were the problems they worked on related to the car…or were they naked coordinate plane slope problems? It sounds like from what I read that the car was the “carrot at the end of stick” that was reward.

    Have you thought about using the car to learn about slope? Have the car go up different ramps with different vertical and horizontal distances. Have them plot the ramps on graph paper and determine the slopes. What is a negative slope? What is a zero slope? What is a positive slope? What is an “impossible” (undefined) slope? How is this related to the coordinate plane? Can they create their own formula for determining slope? What are the units used in the ramps? Why does the slope not contain units? Is the slope constant over the complete ramp? Can they create ramps where the slope of the ramp changes at a particular point, but the slope is constant over each separate horizontal interval? What would it look like for the slope to be non-constant over an interval? Can they create such a ramp?


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