• 68°

Paper helicopters land an understanding in Bob Jones calculus

A simple paper cutout helped students understand complex concepts in calculus at Bob Jones High School.

Bob Jones students 'fly' their helicopters in calculus class. (Photo by Kennedy Booker)

Students in Calculus ‘A’ classes participated in a helicopter optimization project. Before testing, students cut out paper helicopters and attached wings of different sizes.

“Students were given a formula to calculate which optimal wing length would be used next for testing,” Teresa Tarter said. “This project created a relaxed environment where students could work on math and have fun doing it.” Tarter and Kyna Schutzbach teach these classes, along with advanced calculus.

Tarter modified Dr. Madhuri Mulekar’s presentation, “Paper Helicopters to Teach Exploratory Data Analysis and Inference,” from the Alabama Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in 2011.

Mulekar’s presentation emphasized gathering statistics. “I changed the experiment … for application of differentiation, specifically optimization (finding absolute minimum and maximum values),” Tarter said.

The Bob Jones students received two sheets of neon paper to make nine different paper helicopters with varying blade lengths. They divided into teams with each member designated for certain responsibilities, including ‘dropper,’ timer and data transcriber.

“Their goal was to determine wing length that maximizes flight time. They collected data on various wings by flying (dropping) all nine helicopters four times each,” Tarter said. “The paper helicopters spin when dropped, so they appear to be flying.”

The student mathematicians applied the scientific method in collecting their data and analyzing corresponding results.

After collecting data, the students used “regression capabilities of their graphing calculators to fit a curve to their data,” Tarter said. “The resulting graph is called a mathematical model. They can use the function to determine the blade length that maximizes their paper helicopter’s flight time.”

With the helicopter experiment, the students used calculus to solve a real-world optimization problem. “They also used a prediction equation, randomization to more accurately collect data and discussed the effect of other variables, besides wing length, involved in the experiment,” Tarter said.

What was the experiment’s conclusion? Helicopters with shorter blade lengths tended to work better, Tarter said.

Harvest

Sergeant Major Bobby Lee completed several deployments to Middle East

Madison

Wild comeback leads Trash Pandas to first win

Madison

Emergency Water Outage – Highland Drive

Harvest

Moore performs in ‘Tinker Bell,’ works with models and Sparkman photographers

Madison

School board expected to vote on elementary rezoning plan tonight

Madison

Trash Pandas drop inaugural game 6-1 in Chattanooga

James Clemens High School

Chase Lynn’s work on Heritage Church campus secures his Eagle rank

Madison

Madison County Sheriff’s Office charges man for making school threats

Digital Version

Digital version of The Madison Record – May 5, 2021

Madison

New traffic signal at County Line Road and Old Highway 20 set for activation

Bob Jones High School

Bob Jones students gain perspective, win awards at HOSA conference

Madison

Trash Pandas season opener rained out

James Clemens High School

Gohlich restores refuge nature trail to earn Eagle rank in Boy Scouts

Bob Jones High School

Legere, Lott, Prater and Sullivan rank academically in Calhoun’s Top Ten

Madison

Madison City Schools hit with cybersecurity threat

Madison

Student families take a moment to thank teachers this week

Madison

American Legion hosts 2 baseball activities for youth

Madison

Madison woman dies in Limestone wreck

Digital Version

Check out the 2021-22 edition of “Explore Huntsville-Madison”

Madison

Heritage claims kudos at FIRST LEGO League Challenge

Madison

Huntsville-managed moon rocket arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Bob Jones High School

Madison students earn corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship

Madison

Downtown Rescue Mission breaks ground on new store in Madison

Madison

I-565 interchange at Town Madison and Toyota Field now open

x