Electronic Proceedings of the Seventh Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate MathematicsOrlando, Florida, November 1720, 1994Paper 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
USA
Phone: (316) 3435630
Fax: (316) 3415073
yanikeli@esuvm.bitnet

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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