Thanks to an algebra teacher and a local sheriff’s office, students are using algebra to solve real world problems when it comes to calculating the speed of a vehicle involved in an accident.

Soft SkillsAt North Platte High School, instructor Jennifer Davis invited local law enforcement to demonstrate the process of determining vehicle speed to her students. “As a math teacher you always get asked by your students, ‘When am I going to use this in the real world?’” Davis said. “My dad is a Lincoln County sheriff’s officer and he said, ‘I had the same mindset those kids have, and I wish someone in high school would have showed me how you do relate it to the real world.’”

Sheriff’s officers worked with Davis to set up the demonstration in the school parking lot.  They drove a sheriff’s office vehicle at a speed verified by Principal James Ayers. The applied the brakes, and skid marks were used to determine the speed.

“The students will measure the skid marks, then plug it into a formula, and the speed is going to be the unknown variable,” Davis said.

Students measured the skid marks, and determined the friction of the roadway using a drag sled. “It’s all about algebra, but we’re also learning about what happens in accidents,” Vences-Gomez said. “We’re learning everything we need to know about the situation and basically it’s just like a mystery. We’re figuring it out.”

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