Index

Discrete Mathematics Project

Matrices Activity

Title

Bighorn Sheep: Will they survive? (October Crowell)

Goals

(1) Students will investigate the use of matrices in population models.

(2) Students will determine expected number of species after a given number of population cycles. (The Leslie Model)

Abstract

This activity focuses on using matrices in population models. It is best integrated after students have been exposed to matrices operations and more basic problems involving the Leslie Model.

Problem Statement

Many times when a certain species of animal is in danger of extinction in a specific area, biologists will conduct a study of the species to determine whether or not it will survive in that area. In this activity we will be looking at the Bighorn Sheep and applying what we know about matrices to determine the fate of these sheep in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Instructor Suggestions

(1) Introduce the problem to the students

(2) Have students work through the problem in small groups.

(3) Be sure to encourage students to show all steps they used to arrive at their solution as well as write out their trend statement.

(4) Each group should present their solution and statement.

(5) Discuss students' solutions and statements as a class.

Materials

"Bighorn Sheep: Will they survive?" activity sheet

Time

Introduction (5 min), Group work (20 min), Class discussion (20 min)

Mathematics Concepts

Discrete Mathematics Concepts

Matrices, The Leslie Population Model

Related Mathematics Concepts

Matrix operations

Problem Solving, Communication, Reasoning, Connections, Algebra, Statistics, Discrete Mathematics

Number Sense (1), Algebraic Techniques (2), Problem Solving Techniques (5), Linking Concepts and Procedures (6)

Curriculum Integration

This activity could be integrated into an Advanced Algebra class after basic matrix operations are introduced and the Leslie Model is introduced. It could also be integrated in a unit on statistics in any class that has studied matrix operations.

Further Investigation

Students could investigate the population trends of people in certain areas over periods of time, or do research on another endangered species they are interested in.