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# Dimensional Analysis

Why do it?

Kat Woodring

## Benefits for students

Consistent problem solving approach Reduces errors in algebra Reinforces unit conversion Simplifies computation Improves understanding of math applications Multiple ways to solve the same problem

## Benefits for teachers

Successful problem solving strategy for advanced or special needs students Vertically aligns with strategies for Chemistry and Physics Improves Math scores Easy to assess and grade

## 5 Steps of Problem Solving

Identify what you are asked. Write down what is given or known. Look for relationships between knowns and unknowns (use charts, equations). Rearrange the equation to solve for the unknown. Do the computations, cancel the units, check for reasonable answers.

## Teaching Opportunities with Metric System

Beginning of year Review math operations Assess student abilities Re-teach English and SI system Teach unit abbreviations Provide esteem with easy problems Gradually increase complexity

## 5 Steps of Dimensional Analysis Using the Metric Conversion

Start with what value is known, proceed to the unknown. Draw the dimensional lines (count the jumps). Insert the unit relationships. Cancel the units. Do the math, include units in answer.

Lesson Sequence
English to English conversions. Metric to Metric conversions. English to Metric conversions. Metric to English conversions. Complex conversions Word problems

Write the KNOWN, identify the UNKNOWN. EX. How many quarts is 9.3 cups?

9.3 cups

? quarts

## Draw the dimensional jumps.

9.3 cups = ? quarts

9.3 cups x

## Insert relationship so units cancel.

9.3 cups x 1
4

quart
cups

*units of known in denominator (bottom) first *** units of unknowns in numerator (top

Cancel units
9.3 cups x 1 4 quart cups

Do Math
9.3 cups x 1
4

quart
cups

Follow order of operations! Multiply values in numerator If necessary multiply values in denominator Divide.

Do the Math
9.3 cups x 1
4

quart
= cups

9.3 x 1
1 x 4

9.3
= 4 = 2.325 s

## Calculator /No Calculator?

Design problems to practice both. Show how memory function can speed up calculations Modify for special needs students

## Sig. Fig./Sci. Not.?

Allow rounded values at first. Try NOT to introduce too many rules Apply these rules LATER or leave SOMETHING for Chem teachers!

## Show ALL Work

Dont allow shortcuts Use proper abbreviations Box answers and units are part of answer Give partial credit for each step Later, allow step reduction If answer is correct, full credit but full point loss

Vocabulary
KNOWN UNKNOWN CONVERSION FACTOR UNITS

## Write the KNOWN, identify the UNKNOWN.

EX. How many km2 is 802 mm2 ?
802 mm2 = km2?

## Draw the # of dimensional jumps

802 mm2 = km2?

802 mm2 x

Insert Relationships
802 mm2 = km2?

802

mm2

Cancel Units

802

mm2

Cancel Units

802

mm2 x

(1)2

cm2x

(1)2 dm2

(1)2 m2

(1)2

km2

Do the Math

802

mm2 x

(1)2

cm2x

(1)2 dm2

(1)2 m2

(1)2

km2

## Differences from other math approaches

Solve for variables in equation first, then substitute values Open ended application No memorized short-cuts No memorized formulas Reference tables, conversion factors encouraged

Outcomes
Use science
Think scientifically Communicate technical ideas Teach all students Be science conscious not science

phobic

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