PBL Pathways

Content Area

College Algebra, Precalculus

Time Frame

2 to 3 weeks with mini-lectures


September 9, 2008


Piecewise linear function, Newton's Law of Cooling, solving exponential equations

Project Title



David Graser, Yavapai College, Prescott, AZ (David_Graser@yc.edu)


Projects involving Newton's Law of Cooling are fairly common. This project allows the student to calculate an estimate of a time of death based on the temperature of the dead body. The full project allows the student to estimate the time of death using a rule of thumb and Newton's Law of Cooling. The goal is for the students to compare and contrast the estimates. Each student has a different temperature at which the body is found based on the number of letters in their name or a similar identifying aspect.

Project Content

Project Letter: DOC | PDF

Scaffolding Resources

Technology Assignment: DOC | PDF

Video: Graphing a Function on a TI-83
Video: Graphing a Function Using Excel
Video: Changing a Graph in Excel
Video: Adding Axes Titles To Your Excel Graph
Video: Adding Chart Titles To Your Excel Graph

Handout - Worked Out Example on Piecewise Linear Function: PDF


This project can be broken down into a rule of thumb project (piecewise linear functions) or a Newton's Law of Cooling project (exponential functions, solving exponential equations).


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