As part of an NSF grant to develop exhibits and teaching aids that
illustrate key concepts of calculus, I have been working with a group
at the Science Museum of Minnesota. We are relatively early in the process,
but are creating prototype exhibits for testing "out on the floor."
One idea that came to me last winter, involves the meaning of the term
"slope." Obviously, the mathematical meaning overlaps quite
a bit with the ski hill meaning. The first experiments began in ~October,
2001, mounting a laser to my daughter's old board:
The next stage consisted of enlisting my daughter as model, and cutting
her silhouette in 1/2" steel plate. Then addition of a beefy stepper
motor (February, 2002):
Design and virtual models:
More steel cutting and initial assembly (July, 2002):
Soon after, a move to the Museum, with help from the Math Crew:
Final assembly in the Museum shop, and placement in exhibit hall (August,
Slope Rider now resides in the Museum's Experiment Gallery.