Douglas Butler |

On Monday 10 June 2013, Douglas
Butler paid a visit to The International School of Toulouse. He joined the mathematics
department for the day visiting lessons and delivering a session to our Year 9
students. Douglas, a world renowned mathematics educator and great advocator of the use of technology in the mathematics classroom, was impressed by the students, the quality of teaching and
learning and the facilities at the school. The Year 9 students, the school principal and
myself enjoyed his whizz-bang lesson that I’m calling “Mathematics is everywhere!”
The students used Google Earth to skip around the world and visit some places
of mathematical interest. Here’s a summary of some of the fascinating
discoveries we made.

### The Exmouth Hexagons

Zoom in to
Exmouth Penisula in Western Australia and discover these strange hexagons in the ground.

*What transformations could you apply to one to get the other?Why are they there?*### Washington Airport

At each end of every runway you may notice different numbers. At Washington Airport there are
numerous different runways. Why is there a 4 at the end of one of the runways and
the number 22 at the other? On a second runway you will find the numbers 15 and
33.

*What is the mathematical significance of these numbers and if the third runway has 19 at one end what number will you find at the other?*### Melbourne Airport

Continuing on the
theme of airports we used Google Earth to look at the elevation profile of the
runway at Melbourne Airport. As mathematics teachers we are acutely aware how easy it is to
misinterpret graphs – it is important to study them with a critical eye. Looking
at the following graph what might you conclude about this runway?

Elevation of Melborne Runway |

### Denge Sound Mirrors

Denge Sound Mirror, Kent |

Returning to Europe
there exist some wonderful parabolic structures in Kent. Before the invention
of radar, the Denge Sound Mirrors were intended to provide early warning of enemy aeroplanes crossing the Channel
towards Britain. This mirror is shaped like the graph of a parabola (y=x² is the simplest parabola) and this was critical in their efficiency of amplifying the sound.

*Where would you stand to best hear the sound?*Just like flat mirrors, the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. The animated gif below might give you a clue as to why they were so efficient.You can find all the resources created by Douglas Butler for his visit here.

Google Earth is such a great tool. My husband happens to work there and this year on 'take your kids to work day' they had the kids 7-11 using Google Earth to do a scavenger hunt. I didn't think about using it to see mathematical structures, but that is a great idea!

ReplyDeleteKids Math Teacher

This sounds like a great project Lucy. There is certainly a great deal of potential for mathematics with Google Earth. There are some lovely ideas on this site too http://www.realworldmath.org/

ReplyDeleteRichard Wade