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There are many ways to WOW your students with math. This is a lesson that can be extremely fun for both you and them. Absolute Value Functions and Graphs are something that can be related to one of the things they understand most in the world because they have no choice but to use it everyday... Distance and Travel!
Absolute Value Functions Real World Applications
As you know Absolute Value is a way to eliminate negative numbers in situations in which they are not called for. For example, if your student walks to school and it is a 2 mile walk we would say he or she walked 2 miles. However, when the student walks home from school that night we would not say it's a (Negative) 2 mile walk. For instance, when dealing with direction we can illustrate many of these situations so that the students can have visual aids to prove everything you teach them. Here is an example...
Graphing Absolute Functions
Next, have them graph their travel. The time in minutes will be the X axis and the distance from their home will be on the Y axis. Their graph should look something like the one above...
Absolute Value Functions Project
A more advanced lesson (or even a Project) could involve them using the GPS on their phone or tablet to plan a class trip. Say they fly from the nearest airport to Hawaii and then back. Have them chart the time and distance of the trip using the GPS system (Google Maps, Maps for iPhone, ect.). If you really want to blow their minds have them each plan different trips and then graph their travel using the same method above. They will all start to notice that all of their graphs are the same shape. Better yet, they will all notice when someone's graph is different and/or has a mistake. They will notice that some graphs are tall and skinny and some are low and stretched out across the X axis. This will lead you into your lesson on Transforming Absolute Value Functions and Graphs.
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