A Refreshingly Rational Approach to the Center of Mass

  • A Refreshingly Rational Approach to the Center of Mass

    Theodore Hodgson and David Schultz
    Connections between mathematics and other disciplines have long been the focus of NCTM. Yet not all topics within the algebra curriculum readily lend themselves to applied contexts. Consider, for instance, the topic of rational functions of the form f(x) = p(x)/q(x), where p(x) and q(x) are polynomials. A quick survey of basic and advanced algebra texts reveals that rational functions are rarely connected to the real world. When presented in context, however, they appear as “canned” mathematical models (see fig. 1). The origins of these models and how they might arise are conspicuously absent from students’ experience.
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