Progress report / research reflection post -week 2

First of all I have to apologize that I did not do progress report on my inquiry project in week 1 and I am late with the second progress report as well. I totally missed it due to my extremely busy schedule and I will try to make up for it in this blog. I can’t wait to have a break from my work! (I will address this topic later in my blog 🙂 .)

It took me a long time to chose my inquiry project. I have set forth the following criteria:

That means I am probably not going to write about something that I don’t know anything or know very little of (even though that would be the most interesting for me since I can learn new stuff). It has to be something that is simple enough to fit into ,say, maximum 30 pages. (What is the expected length of the project anyway?)

By that I mean that someone else has to be interested in reading it apart for my classmates that will be likely forced to read at least some parts of it and my teacher who will have to read it to determine my grade.

I don’t want the writing and research to turn into an endurance race.

Now it’s time to announce my research inquiry topic: From Pythagorean Theorem to Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Now before you start laughing, let me explain why I chose this project.

a) It uses simple math. Special theory of relativity is “special” because it deals only with objects moving along straight lines without presence of any external forces. (There is a big difference between special and general theory of relativity – general theory of relativity is, of course, out of question for his project). The mathematics needed in special theory of relativity is at most high-school algebra. In particular, you don’t need calculus! The whole theory is based on a distance formula in the plane (AKA Pythagorean theorem) and the fact that the speed of light is finite and is the same with respect to any object in the universe.

b) I understood it long time ago. I am comfortable with the topic. I was about 15 or 16 years old when I read a fascinating short book about the special theory of relativity and was amazed how much one can achieve with elementary mathematics.

c) My kids can read it. My children are 13 and 11 and are smarter than me when I was their age. I am going to write this project in a way that any thirteen year old will be able to understand it and have fun while doing it (this will be the challenging part, but I will do my best).

d) I have already a plan of the project. My project will have 3 parts:

1) The proof of Pythagorean Theorem and a nice piece of Greek history. Here I can mention and embed links to such classical problems as trisecting an angle or doubling the cube.


2) Speed of light is finite. This idea is much older than the “proof” which was supplied by Ole Rømer in 1676. The fact that the speed of light is the same with respect to any object in the universe was populated by Einstein 1905 based on experiments by Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley in 1887. Here I can also supply some fun historical facts about Albert Einstein. I will also explain how the speed of light was measured.

Albert Einstein

3) The special theory of relativity. In this section I will derive the equations for time and space dilatation and other interesting and fun consequences derived by the means of very simple mathematics.

d) From July 4 to July 17 I will be in Greece (mostly Athens and Crete). I am so excited! I will be writing about Old Greece from there! And here is an answer to Bonnie’s question: ” Why does summer school exist anyway???” Answer: “So that we can take courses while sitting on a pink sand beach in Crete and listening to the waves splashing against the pink rocks nearby … .” 🙂 🙂 🙂

Elafonisi Beach, Crete

My classmates decided to write mostly on more contemporary and less science oriented topics. Katie is interested in the topics of gender and sexual orientation. Braxtondn decided to research self-image through the lens of new media. Others, like almahmouda, are still a little blurry on their inquiry-based project. And please, do not wake up khoorivcu. He is working, not sleeping.

Courtesy of khoorivcu 🙂

2 thoughts on “Progress report / research reflection post -week 2”

  1. Imelda — I agree with premise: manageable — we only have 6 weeks to develop and create the project — so of course you have to have some boundaries and limitations in your research.
    Also – meaningful and hold your interest — absolutely!
    Here’s my concern: it sounds like you’ve known about this topic for years, and so it would just be a recap and representation of what you already know about math. Your research question should be based on a question you do NOT know. So maybe you know about the speed of light and how it was measured, but so what? Couldn’t we just Google that if we wanted to know it? What about the speed of light has meaning for us, other than just how it’s measured. Making it meaningful to a reader is making it interesting in a way that is original.
    So are you a Math major? Why have you chosen math? How has technology effected math? I’m just not sure what you don’t know that you would like to know. To report of things you already know === most boring project ever. : (

    1. I am a make-up artist and a fashion design major with interest in math and science in general 🙂 But you are correct in your comment and I decided to change my my inquiry topic to the following: “Cancer, the silent killer: Awareness, prevention and advances in treatment.” This sounds very interesting to me and it will be very valuable to learn about. In my research, I would like to focus on types of cancer that are specific for women (such as breast, cervical and ovarian cancer) but also cover many of the other types of cancer as well.

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