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Exponential Functions and Bad Movie Math


Teachers need good stories and examples to tell about their classes and students and this is a good one. The student is in my online intermediate algebra class and is working with the concept of exponential functions. You may enjoy this story which they sent to me this morning via email:

“… tonight during our dinner break my husband put the TV on, and the movie “Independence Day” was playing. There’s a scene where the nerdy guy figures out that the signal the aliens are sending has a decreasing pattern, and mentioned it would eventually stop. I thought “it would stop when it reaches zero” and I actually made [my husband] rewind so I could hear if the character said it was decaying exponentially or not. He didn’t say, so I blurted out “it’s a linear function” – I was all ready to yell “bad movie math!” if the character had said the signal was decreasing exponentially, because that should mean it would never reach zero. LOL!!”

I LOVE when a student gets a concept and sees it applied in real life. Well, ok, movies are not real life but it is a start!

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