A few months ago I created an application investigation for my students involving logarithms in which one of the areas focused on earthquakes and the Richter scale. Students researched several earthquakes and saw the effects that differing sizes made on an area. Recently, my principal sent me this article about Nepal’s earthquake and again highlighted how much bigger one earthquake is versus another, even when the Richter scale values are only a small difference. I decided I was going to show this to my students as a great visual and reminder of mathematics in our own world, but didn’t want to just leave it at that. I thought we could do something for Nepal. I sought out one of my student’s who is the sophomore board president and asked her if she had any ideas (kids are always more creative!) She came up with the great idea to sell t-shirts around the school as a way to raise funds for a charity in Nepal. Two students then designed the tshirt and we decided to go with this local post-graduate student’s efforts who has been working directly in Nepal (see the article here and here). We loved the description of all they were doing there and that we could see exactly where the funds would go. After selling 100 shirts and paying back the funds we purchased the shirts with, we will be donating $195 to their organization!
If you are interested in the investigation, here is the student worksheet: Applications of Logs. I had students choose 3 areas they were interested in studying between population growth, earthquakes, sound/decibels, pH scale/chemistry, and risk. The population growth was an online investigation to understand the population growth equation, the rate, and predict future models. The earthquake investigation asked students to research different earthquakes that have happened around the world and see the impact of different Richter scale sizes. In the sound/decibels investigation, students used an iPad to record different sounds and then use logarithms to calculate the decibels. The pH scale investigation began by having students watch a video on pH and then analyze the pH value of certain foods that we eat. Finally, the risk investigation helped students to understand the role of an actuary and how logarithms are use to assess risk.