Calculating Continental Drift
    Global Positioning System
    Scripps Orbit and Permanent Array Center
    [page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6, page 7, page 8]

  1. Contributing Teacher:  Geoff Hagopian, College of the Desert, November, 12, 2000
  2. Suggested Grade Level:  This activity is appropriate for second semester calculus or, with some modifications, Introductory Statistics
  3. Time Required:  About a week
  4. Materials and Technology Needed:  Internet access and spreadsheet software.
  5. Safety Considerations:  Keep clear of hackers and Dubya backers.
  6. Teacher Preparation:  Carefully read through and perform all the exercises before foisting this on the trusting and unsuspecting students.
  7. Objectives and Learning Outcomes:  Students will learn how methods of smoothing and noise reduction with satellite observation data can be used to demonstrate principles of the plate tectonics paradigm.
  8. Purpose:  The purpose of this project is to discover how methods of smoothing and error analysis can be used to process raw GPS data.
  9. Procedure: See this web site.
  10. Results/Analysis:  Most of the problems involve essentially filling in little baby steps and so the resuls are mostly built into the narrative.  The finally resolution to the paradox of rising and falling at the same time is that, while the bedrock may be rising, subsidence of the the aquifer, an underground layer of porous rock, sand or other matter that contains water, may exceed that rise, causing a net drop in elevation.  In fact, the subsidence may be greater than reported if the rising of the bedrock has not been included in calculations.
  11. Teacher Reflections:  Wow.  This turned out to be a lot to chew.  I learned a lot, but I need to learn more before foisting this on my trusting students.
  12. Extensions:  The exercises from the NASA site are geared to a lower level, but are quite well done.
  13. Assessment Suggestions:  I would need to have this polished quite a bit more before I assigned it to anyone.  As such, there's not much to say about the assessment except that it will take a long time to read all the papers...
  14. Standards Addressed:   I have my daughter's Sixth Grade Standards for Success pamphlet.  It's interesting to see how many of these apply to this, what I consider college-level work:

  15. Mathematical Reasoning
    1.0  Students make decisions about how to approach problems;
    1.1analyze problems by identifying relationships, discriminating relevant from irrelevant information, identifying missing information, sequencing and prioritizing information and observing patterns;
    1.2 formulate and justigy mathematical conjectures based upon a general description of the mathematical question or problem  posed;
    1.3  determine when and how to break a problem into simpler parts.
    2.0  Students use strategies, skills an concepts in finding solutions;
    2.1  use estimation to verify  the reasonableness of calculated results;
    2.2  apply strategies and results from simpler problems to more complex problems;
    2.3  estimate unknown quantities graphically and solve for them using logical reasoning and arithmetic and algebraic techniques;
    2.4  use a variety of methods such as words, numbers, symbols, charts, graphs, tables, diagrams and models to explain mathematical reasoning;
    2.5  express the solution clearly and loghically using appropriate mathematical notation and terms and clear language and support solutions with evidence in both verbal and symbolic work;
    2.6  indicate the relative advantages of exact and approximate solutions to problems and give and give answers to a specified degree of accuracy;
    2.7 make precise calculations and check the validity of the results from the context of the problem
    3.0 Students move beyond a particular problem by generalizing to other situations;
    3.1  evaluate the reasonableness of the solution in the context of the original situation;
    3.2 note method of deriving the solution and demonstrate conceptural understanding of the derivation by solving similar problems;
    3.3 develop generatlizations of the results obtained and the strategies used and extend them to new problem situations.
  16. References/Resources:  The URLs of various resources are woven throughout the narrative.