Electronic Proceedings of the Twentyeighth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate MathematicsAtlanta, Georgia, March 1013, 2016Paper A036
This is an electronic reprint, reproduced by permission of Pearson Education Inc. Originally appeared in the Proceedings of the Twentyeighth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics, ISBN 013480029X, Copyright (C) 2017 by Pearson Education, Inc. 
Multivariable Spreadsheet Modeling and Scientific Thinking via Stacking Bricks 
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Students measure the height of a variety of stacks of bricks and construct a mathematical
model via a spreadsheet using linear regression. They predict the height of a 100 bricks.
Then they go outside and measure brick heights in a real brick wall. Students quickly
discover that mortar in between the brick is going to modify their model. They take
measurements of bricks plus mortar and produce a second or revised model. Students
compare models, consider random and systematic errors using a prebuilt spreadsheet
simulation, and then develop a model to count the number of bricks in a specified area of
a wall (and can verify). From multiple measurements of bricks and mortar joints in a
brick wall, students can get a feel for real variation. In the end, a multivariable model is
developed and explored as an interactive spreadsheet simulation. A version using Lego
bricks and plates (mortar) is also considered.
Keyword(s): applications, modeling, spreadsheets