Calculus became really interesting for one high school class when they learned about math calculations in traffic investigations from a visiting police officer.
The calculus class at Spearfish High School found out about real applications of mathematics when Police Officer Kale nelson gave a presentation about the math used in traffic accident investigation.
“The reason I like doing this is because when I was in high school and college, and I sat in math classes like you guys, I really didn’t care about it at all, because (I thought), ‘When am I going to use calculus, trigonometry and geometry?’ Never. And then I get into this career and decide I like doing accidents … and use a lot of math,” Nelson told the students.
Officer Nelson showed local accident photos and diagrams, and talked about the math formulas used in performing necessary calculations. Some of the things to measure are drag factor of surfaces, speed, agle of approach and departure, and amount of force. Data collected include skid marks, slope, and environmental factors.