Electronic Proceedings of the Seventh Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics

Orlando, Florida, November 17-20, 1994

Paper C023

Coffee, Tea, or Not? A Model Based on Newton's Law of Cooling

Elizabeth Yanik

Division of Mathematics and Computer Science
Emporia State University
Emporia, KS 66801
Phone: (316) 343-5630
Fax: (316) 341-5073

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We will describe an activity which can be used in a variety of classroom settings, such as college algebra, mathematical modeling, and differential equations. Students are asked to predict what the temperature of the hot tea in my cup will be at the end of class. A couple of students will record the temperature of the tea every 5 minutes. At the end of class all students are given a copy of this data. Using graphing calculators or graphing utilities, the students are to fit various types of curves to the data. Next they must decide which curve best represents the data. This model has been very successful in engaging my students' interests in a mathematical task which requires them to carefully analyze the results of their curve fitting utilities.

Keyword(s): college algebra, modeling, differential equations, computer algebra systems, graphing calculators