Calculator-Based Classroom Activities

Activities and software may be downloaded and used by secondary or introductory college teachers without charge in their math, science or technology classrooms. Participant handouts and facilitator materials are provided in MS Word format and may be modified to meet the needs of a particular class. We ask that you acknowledge "Learning with Math Machines, Inc." as the source and the original copyright holder in any revisions you make.
The materials may not be sold or used in teacher in-service programs without the express, written permission of Learning with Math Machines, Inc.

Search for an activity using drop-down categories, or browse the annotated listing of all activities.

Click here for an overview of the materials provided

General Mathematics and Trigonometry Activities
Science / Physics

Annotated List of Activities

Calibrating SAM
Student groups will collect data and construct functions that will allow them to control the robot. The concepts of input, output, domain and range will also be explored.
Bug Zapper
Student groups will use Trigonometry to create a function that will automate the Pointer to zap a bug with a laser. The position of the bug will be the input and output will be the angle the pointer must turn.
SAM Plays T-Ball
Student groups will collect data to construct a function that they will use to operate SAM's robot arm. They will also program SAM to automatically move to a cup to knock a ball off.
Binary Signals
Student groups will develop, test and evaluate a coding system which they use to send signals to other students and to an RC vehicle.
In the Right Place
Student groups will test and evaluate alternative software systems for positioning the SAM robot. The concepts of automation, feedback and the design process are emphasized.
Color Sines
Student groups investigate the RGB system for replicating colors and use trigonometric functions to program a sequence of color changes.
Student groups design and test software algorithms to control the lighting in a room. They evaluate alternative solutions in terms of energy efficiency, response time and general effectiveness.
Servo and Stepper Motors
Student test and learn to control servo motors and stepper motors using calculator software. After the activity, students have the necessary background to undertake projects using these inexpensive motors.
Star Show
Students use spherical coordinates as they plan a simulated astronomical observing session to photograph a variety of star types.

Introduction to Control Systems
Using the Binary Basic Trainer or the Motor Controller, student learn to connect simple electrical circuits and to control DC motors, buzzers, lights and other devices using sensors and simple logic statements.

One-Dimensional Motion
Student groups investigate the importance of acceleration in predicting and controlling the motion of a motorized vehicle.
Magnetic Fields
Students guide a simulated electrically charged particle by placing steering magnets in the correct location and with the correct orientation.

Tow Truck
Student groups use the SAM robot to do specified quantities of positive and negative work.

Light Rays
Using the SAM robot, students control a reflected light beam and investigate how bending of light rays is related to wave velocity.
DC Motors
Learners build and test a circuit using relays to run DC motors forward or backwards under calculator control, operating equipment such as a toy bulldozer, a Lego vehicle or a K’Nex crane. They integrate their circuit into a larger system to complete a sequence of events in the style of Rube Goldberg.
Right Triangle SAM
Student groups will use algebra and trigonometry to automate SAM the Robot to complete a right triangular path. The program SCHOME generates two values X & Y that are used to move the robot down two legs of a right triangle. Students are challenged to construct functions that the program can use to guide SAM straight back to its starting point
Time to Climb
Student groups will use algebra and geometry to automate the calculator-controlled Power Pulley to raise an action figure from the table to the top of a stand. The action figure must travel the entire distance is an inputted period of time T. Participants will need to construct a function that will output the angular speed of the motor U.
Pegboard Line
Student groups will use linear algebra to automate the calculator-controlled Pointer to allign a wooden rod between two points marked on a pegboard and to display the equation of the line containing them. The slope formula along with the point-slope and slope-intercept forms of a line will be utilized.

Monster 3D
SAM follows a path and fires a laser at several monsters along the way. Studentsl need to construct equations that will calculate angles in the XZ-coordinate plane so that the movement of both the robot (aligned along the Y-axis) and a pointer (aligned along the X-axis) will combine to aim the laser and shoot each monster. Created by Kathy Ellington, Jim Lester, and Hal Repasky
Winch in a Pinch
Student groups will construct a function to automate the Pointer/Power Pulley to move a toy truck up a ramp. The students will be given information about the motor including pictures of the gears. The function they construct should input the distance the the operator wants the truck to travel and output the "steps" the motor needs to turn to do the job.
Vibrations - Students investigate an example of simple harmonic motion and then apply their understanding to (a) predict how a different system will vibrate, and (b) replicate the motion using an electric motor.
Reflection (draft)
Students control the rotation of mirrors.