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Ron Lancaster

Students analyze items from the media to answer mathematical questions related to the article. Some media pieces about lumber provide an opportunity for work in graphing, volume, and restricting domains to real-world settings.

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J. Vince Kirwan and Jennifer M. Tobias

A task using multiple representations helps students write explicit algebraic equations.

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“Mathematical Lens” uses photographs as a springboard for mathematical inquiry and appears in every issue of the Mathematics Teacher. All submissions should be sent to the department editors. For more background information on “Mathematical Lens” and guidelines for submitting a photograph and questions, please visit

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Chris J. Park and Heather K. Lye

Students analyze items from the media to answer mathematical questions related to the article. Estimating the size of the crowd at the Obama inauguration leads to estimating skills and finding areas, whereas the Zombie epidemic leads to modeling infectious disease.

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Elaine M. Purvinis and Joshua B. Fagan

In first- and second-year algebra classrooms, the all-too-familiar whine of “when are we ever going to use this in real life?” challenges mathematics teachers to find new, engaging ways to present mathematical concepts. The introduction of quadratic equations is typically modeled by describing the motion of a moving object with respect to time, and typical lessons include uninspiring textbook practice problems that portray dropping or shooting objects from given distances or at particular time intervals. For a novel approach to exploring quadratics, we chose to step outside the classroom to look at some phenomena in the field of acoustics. Our activity incorporates mathematical modeling to provide a multirepresentational view of the math behind the physics and to provide a conceptual basis for analyzing and understanding a real-world quadratic situation.

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Eric Weber, Amy Ellis, Torrey Kulow, and Zekiye Ozgur

Modeling the motion of a speeding car or the growth of a Jactus plant, teachers can use six practical tips to help students develop quantitative reasoning.

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Chris A. Bolognese

Students analyze a photograph to solve mathematical questions related to the images captured in the photograph. This month the mathematics behind the photograph includes finding areas of regular polygons, right triangle trigonometry, the Pythagorean theorem, special right triangles, and similarity and scale factors.

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Alison L. Mall and Mike Risinger

Our favorite lesson, an interactive experiment that models exponential decay, launches with a loud dice roll. This exploration engages students in lively data collection that motivates interest in key components of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: functions, modeling, and statistics and probability (CCSSI 2010).