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Jenna McWilliams
Jenna McWilliams
(Bloomington - United States)

I studied creative writing and published some poems. Then I decided to  get all up in education's grill. I'm currently a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program at Indiana  University.
keywords: participatory culture, social media, education,  ...

Working Together - Rational Equations

Hands-on In-class group activity

Time required: 20+ minutes

Materials (for each group):

  • 12 small objects: pencils, pieces of chalk, etc.
  • 2 desks spaced 8 to 10 feet apart
  • clock or stopwatch: measurement to the nearest second is okay
Description: The main purpose of this lab is to understand work rates and how working together affects the time it takes to complete a large task.

The groups will time a "œfast" worker, a "œslow" worker, and will calculate the time it will take these two workers to complete the job together. Groups will then compare their calculated estimate to the actual time.

  • Each group needs 2 movers. One mover should be "quick" and one should be "slow." It is important that the workers are consistent about their pace throughout the job.
  • Each mover will individually complete the task of moving the 12 objects (one by one) from one desk to the other. The timekeepers will measure the time to complete the job in seconds. The movers then work together to complete the job.
  • Each group will perform calculations to see how long it should take the two workers to complete the task working together and compare to the trial value.
See also Nick Slinglend's notes on using this activity in class, on the Comments page.

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