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Algebra 1 Syllabus   PDF

Current Unit - Pit and Pendulum

This unit opens with an excerpt from The Pit and the Pendulum, by Edgar Allan Poe. In the story, a prisoner is tied down while a pendulum with a sharp blade slowly descends. If the prisoner does not act, he will be killed by the pendulum. When the pendulum has about 12 swings left, the prisoner creates a plan for escape and executes it. Students are presented with the problem of whether the prisoner would have enough time to escape. To resolve this question, students construct pendulums and conduct experiments to find out what variables determine the period of a pendulum and what the relationship is between the period and these variables. In the process, students are introduced to the normal distribution and the standard deviation as tools for determining whether a change in one variable really does affect another. They make and refine conjectures, analyze data collected from experiments, and learn about quadratic equations and explore curve fitting. Finally, after deriving a theoretical answer to the problem, students actually build a 30-foot pendulum to test their theory.