Mathematical modeling is garnering national and international focus due to the many benefits that it can provide to students including increased engagement, understanding through multiple representations, and discourse.
The Scale the Strat activity is connected to health science and an event held in Las Vegas sponsored by the American Lung Association, whose mission is to save lives by improving lung health. Each year at the Stratosphere Tower people climb up 108 floors of the tower consisting of 1,455 stairs to raise money for the American Lung Association. Shaun Stephens-Wale has the fastest time running up the stairs in 7 minutes and 3 seconds. At the start of this problem a video is shown about the event.
The question is then posed if Stephens-Wale would beat someone in an elevator to the top of the tower. Students realized that someone in an elevator should arrive at the top first.
The question for the problem is then posed. How many floors would someone in an elevator have to be stopped at in order to tie Stephens-Wale running up the stairs? This problem is connected to creating equations that describe numbers or relationships. In figuring out this problem students make different assumptions and approximations including if the elevator is being used by guests of the casino or staff, the speed of the elevator, and the time it takes for people to get on or off the elevator at each stop. Students have also used the Internet to help develop their solution.
An example solution involves making an assumption that the elevator takes 1.5 seconds to go up each floor and approximately 17 seconds of wait time for each floor it stops at. This takes into account people getting on and off the elevator. The equation would be the following then:
423 = 108 (1.5) + 17x which when solved gives about 15 floors with stops. In this activity the importance of choices and assumptions are highlighted for mathematical modeling.
Stohlmann, M. (2020). STEM integration for high school mathematics teachers. Journal of Research in STEM Education, 6(1), 52-63.
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.