Author David Graser, Yavapai College, Prescott, AZ (


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.

  • Content Area – College Algebra, Precalculus
  • Time Frame -2 to 3 weeks with mini-lectures
  • Published – September 9, 2008
  • Keywords – piecewise linear function, Newton’s Law of Cooling, solving exponential equations

Project Content

Project Letter (DOC | PDF)

Scaffolding Resources

Technology Assignment (DOC | PDF)

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 (Video)

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).