Handle With Care

2012 Mar 09. This post references this task.

Greg Hitt put this image up in front of his class and couldn’t get them back:

So, anyways, they could see plain as day about the object’s motion, seeing the way that the vertical component of velocity goes towards zero, inspecting the horizontal component and seeing that it stays more or less the same. Again, the clarity of the image made it so they could see it, without me having to tell them. Good! Success! Time to move on! “Wait!” the kid yells. “Does he make the shot?

Sometimes the picture asks a question so loudly you have to answer it.

2011 Mar 09. Andrew Stadel:

Best quote from a kid: “Can we watch the video to see if he makes it?” No, we have to finish our graphs “It’s killing me. I gotta know!”

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Just finished my third class of the day where I presented them with this photo and the simple question, “Does he make the shot?”

    We’ve spent a good part of the year finding regression equations, and I was surprised that not many students saw that as a solution process here. They were pretty on top of the fact that the motion was parabolic, and I saw lots of good work taking advantage of that symmetry (mostly with the assumption that the final ball shown is at the vertex). In two classes, we had an interesting discussion about choosing a location for the origin.

    Also worth noting was how upset the classes were that I don’t know the answer… This really seemed to take the wind out of their sails, which shows me that we have a long way to go!

  2. This would be a good photo to load into GeoGebra and have students work out if he really did make the shot. (Might scale up the image first to make it easier to work with).

  3. I put it into Geometer’s sketchpad. The shot looks short.
    I think it hit’s the front rim. But only Dan knows for sure.

  4. Unfortunately, all the math in the world isn’t going to help us with what we’ve been given so far. Sure, we can probably prove that the shot isn’t in, but there is no way to prove that it is without a second angle and the Z axis.

    Would it be cruel to put the class through all the analysis only to tell them the shot was left and was not in? Being very new to WCYDWT I’m not sure of the “rules” and whether this is allowed?

    I have no problem with being evil enough to do this by the way :-) but is that the old-self or the new-self talking?