Course 4 Unit 10 - Problem Solving, Algorithms, and Spreadsheets
1st Edition

This unit is the final unit of the algebra and functions strand of the Contemporary Mathematics in Context program. Students intending to pursue college majors in social, management, and some of the health sciences or humanities should study this unit. Although if they are already knowledgeable in the use of spreadsheets, lessons from this unit could be used as projects for some of the units from Courses 1-3. (See the descriptions of Course 4 Units.)

Unit Overview

This unit develops student understanding and skill in the use of standard spreadsheet operations for mathematical problems, while at the same time reviewing and extending many of the basic topics in Courses 1-3.

Unit Objectives
  • To review algebraic concepts and algorithms previously studied
  • To solve a wide variety of pure and applied mathematical problems using the capabilities of spreadsheets
  • To develop an appreciation for the power of spreadsheets as a problem-solving tool that is greatly enhanced by one's facility with algebraic formulas

Sample Overview

The sample material is Lesson 5, "Population and Political Power." Students use a spreadsheet to explore methods of apportionment of the 435 members of the House of Representatives. Students use the IF-THEN-ELSE decision statement, sort columns, and use the INT function of spreadsheets. Students learn to appreciate the power that spreadsheets provide for adjusting values to obtain a needed result, such as the 435 U.S. Representatives.

Instructional Design

Throughout the curriculum, interesting problem contexts serve as the foundation for instruction. As lessons unfold around these problem situations, classroom instruction tends to follow a common pattern as elaborated under Instructional Design.

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