As stated previously I want my students to see uses of mathematics. One way to do this is to read about uses of mathematics such as engineering projects and their solutions.
I see this unit as something the student can read as a start on the subject. The unit may be broken into sections for reading or the whole unit may be given to the class. I want discussion with the students on the writing: Is it clear? How could it be improved? What was left out? Did some source over simplify the story? After disecting this unit it will be their turn. They will write a report on some technological project.
Learning is a do-it-yourself job. The required work may not be enjoyable. I hope the collateral reading will be enjoyable and fascinating.
I see the student projects centering on the history of engineering, ship building, naval architecture and technology. Books that are readily available are the Time-LIFE Books
and Thomas C. Gillmer’s
Modern Ship Design,
both are public library books.
The most important part of the process will be the discussion. Students are all too willing to sit passively by as if they were jugs waiting to be filled up. I see the reading as the motivation for the discussion. If the books are interesting enough the students will be willing to share them with one another.
I will use this material when we discuss variation in Algebra II. This unit itself mentions direct and inverse proportion. The naval architecture readings give examples of variation when they discuss laws of mechanical similitude, such as the wetted surface varies as the square of the length on the water line. There are other places that the unit could be used, but I need a starting place. If the students show interest the project will expand.