Thursday, December 1, 2022

The True Costs of Owning a Car - A Lesson Plan for High School Students

I paid $1500 for my first car. That was a hefty sum for me back in the fall of 1996. That car needed a little bit of brake work to pass the state's safety inspection and then it needed about a dozen other little repairs over the next two years. Fortunately, I had someone in my life who taught me a lot about working on cars and saved me lots of money in the process. I made the same mistake that many young people make in believing that saving money to purchase the car was all that I needed. That's why I like EconEdLink's free lesson plan titled Owning a Car.

Owning a Car is a free lesson plan that is designed as a personal finance lesson for high school students. The lesson is based around a video titled What are the True Costs of Car Ownership? The video was produced as a collaboration between Bank of America and Khan Academy. The lesson plan has students first estimate what they think the costs of car ownership are then watch the video while taking notes (template provided) about the actual costs of car ownership. The follow-up activity has students comparing ownership costs for a variety of vehicle types.

To build upon EconEdLink's Owning a Car lesson plan consider showing your students Common Craft's videos about insurance and borrowing money. You can preview both of those videos as embedded below.



Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

How Airplanes Fly - And Other Good Resources for Learning About Flying

I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's book, One Summer: America, 1927. The book is centered around significant events of that summer including Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic. Airplanes have come a long way since Lindbergh flew in the Spirit of St. Louis, an airplane that he couldn't see out of when looking forward. The physics of how an airplane gets airborne and stays airborne are still the same as they were 1927. A newly released video SciShow Kids uses excellent visuals to explain how an airplane flies today. The video uses both jet-powered airplanes and prop-powered airplanes to show the key concepts. 

How Airplanes Fly is the latest video that I'm adding to my growing list of resources for teaching and learning about airplanes and airlines. Those resources are included below.  

Turbulence: One of the Great Unsolved Mysteries of Physics is a TED-Ed lesson that explains what turbulence is and the forces that create it. The lesson explains that even though we typically associate turbulence with flying in airplanes, turbulence exists in many other places including oceans.


The Wright Brothers - The Invention of the Aerial Age offers timelines for teaching about the developments made by the Wright Brothers. Dig into the Interactive Experiments section of the timeline and you'll find Engineering the Wright WayEngineering the Wright Way offers interactive simulations in which students learn about wing design by joining the Wright Brothers for test flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

How Things Fly hosted by the Smithsonian features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

TED-Ed offers a lesson about breaking the sound barrier. The lesson is called The Sonic Boom Problem and it explains how a sonic boom is created and how math is used to predict the path of a sonic boom in the atmosphere. 



Here's some archival footage of Yeager's flight in the Bell X-1.

If you have ever wondered why airlines sell more tickets than they have seats on an airplane, the TED-Ed lesson Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets? is for you. In Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets? you can learn about the mathematics that airlines use to maximize the revenue that they can generate from each flight. That math includes calculating the probability that everyone who holds a ticket for a flight will actually show up for the flight. The way that probability is calculated is explained in the video. Finally, the lesson asks students to consider the ethics of overbooking flights. Watch the video below or go here to see the entire lesson.



Image source: SDASM Archives, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons