Using PhET Simulations in the Mathematics Classroom

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Imagine that you and your language arts colleagues are teaching Edgar Allan Poe's short story, “The Pit and the Pendulum.” This thrilling story takes us to the Inquisition during which a prisoner is surrounded by hungry rats and bound to a table while a large pendulum slowly descends. The prisoner believes that the pendulum is 30-40 feet long and estimates that it should take about 10-12 swings before he is hit, leaving him with about a minute or a minute and a half to escape. Are his estimations correct? If so, will he make it out in time?

Contributor Notes

Michelle Meadows,, is an assistant professor of education and department chair for the master's in education online program within the Arts and Sciences Department at Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio. She is interested in relevant and engaging middle-grades math activities.

Joanne Caniglia,, is an associate professor of education within the School of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Studies at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. Her research activities include creating meaningful mathematical tasks to assist secondary and special education students.

(Corresponding author is Meadows
(Corresponding author is Caniglia
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