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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans
The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Project URL:  http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/unhs/ianni/pisa.htm

How it works:
1. On the first day, students will work in the computer lab, searching the web for the history of the Tower of Pisa. Searching for the history will make them aware that the Tower exists, that it is real and tangible. 

2. On the second day, students will be introduced to the mathematics content. 

3. Students will work in the classroom using the TI-83 graphing calculator. 

4. Students will work in the computer lab using the Geometer’s Sketchpad software. 

5. Again, students will be in the computer lab using the Internet in order to plan a trip to Italy.

Standards addressed:
Model situations geometrically to formulate and solve problems.
Solve problems involving scale.
Solve equations, and trigonometric functions.

Use scientific calculator effectively and efficiently. 
Use productivity tools to collaborate  in constructing technology-enhanced models, prepare travel itinerary                 
Use technology tools to process data and report results.

English Language Arts:
Read and comprehend authentic documents from the web. 
Write reports using correct conventions and grammar.

Software or Materials Used:
Computer Lab with Internet 
Ti-83 graphing Calculator
Geometer's Sketchpad Software
Teacher-developed TI-83 and Sketchpad "Survive Guides", Planning a Trip worksheet

The Students:
Here you have an excellent project that will relate to many different disciplines in your school. The students suitable for this project are 10th graders and up. It can be adapted to pre-calculus and calculus students. The higher the grade, the more work can be done in terms of analysis and investigation. The tower of Pisa unit is a great way to incorporate students that are creative in arts and technology, but don’t love mathematics.

Overall Value:
The Leaning Tower of Pisa will help a wide range of students that have different learning styles. It is quite amazing how much mathematics can be related to an old falling tower. Italian students, art students, and business students are going to fall in love with the idea of planning a trip, studying the history of the tower, and the fascinating physics that is involved in a falling, but not falling tower. Mathematics is not just discovering a mathematical formula with the class and applying it to a problem. Real mathematics is looking around and being able to understand, using previous knowledge, the beauty of the laws that made what we are now and will eventually continue to change our lives.

Student motivation is the key to the success of this lesson. A good motivation is a period or two spent on researching the history of the tower. 

About The Teacher

Francesco Ianni teaches at University Neighborhood High School. As a  mathematics teacher, he is aware of the fact that students don’t see all the beauty in the amazing mathematics that is around them. His goal is to show students that mathematics can be loved and appreciated just like art, music and sports.

Email Contact: albmia@mindspring.com

Estimated Class Periods To Complete: 8 - 10 class periods

Computer Science

Beginning Grade Level: 10

Ending Grade Level: 12





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