Transversals Lesson: Street Views

The following Problem Based math lesson covers the concept of transversals crossing parallel lines and their angle relationships. The scenario of the task predicated on needing to determine “safe” and “troublesome” intersections in town. Intersections that are closer to right angles are deemed “safe,” while intersections with extreme angles result in limited-vision turns. But that leaves a lot of student-centered wiggle room to define what a safe turn is.

So we start with a concept attainment exercise. I’ve also heard it referred to as “definition and non-definition.” We say that these are “safe” intersections.

These are “troublesome” intersections.

After we make some concrete definitions, students then set off to find examples of such intersections in their town.

Having grown up in Austin, TX, I’m well aware of some of these “troublesome” intersections with extreme angles.

Students are required to produce the following:

  • Develop a mathematical definition for “safe” turns and “troublesome” turns using these examples. Please use specific and accurate definitions and vocabulary.
  • Find examples of “safe” and “troublesome” intersections in our town using a map tool (such as google maps or a physical map). Be sure to include examples that include consecutive intersections, such as the ones with two blue lines above. 
  • On the examples you find, clearly label the turn angles going every which way. And be sure to identify patterns in the angles.

Ideally, through investigation, measurement, ingenuity, and/or intuitiveness, students will recognize the angle relationships involved. Specifically, we want to highlight the relationship between alternate exterior angles, alternate interior angles, and same side interior angles.

To round things out, here is a rubric on which I’ll assess the student work.

Here’s a google doc version of the rubric.

The full lesson, including the setup and the requirments are below. (google doc)

My question for you: how would you modify this task? And, for bonus points, can you find examples of troublesome intersections in your town? Post ’em if ya got ’em!

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Greetings students of New Tech High,

As a city planner, the safety of road intersections are of utmost interest to me. I write to you to help the city identify “safe” turns and “troublesome” intersections in our town so we may identify measures to make intersection safer. The following are “safe” turns.

These are intersections that have seen very few traffic accidents.

The following are “troublesome” turns.

The sharp turns reduce peripheral visibility and result in more accidents with pedestrians and other cards than you’d expect.

I require the following tasks:

  • Develop a mathematical definition for “safe” turns and “troublesome” turns using these examples. Please use specific and accurate definitions and vocabulary.
  • Find examples of “safe” and “troublesome” intersections in our town using a map tool (such as google maps or a physical map). Be sure to include examples that include consecutive intersections, such as the ones with two blue lines above. 
  • On the examples you find, clearly label the turn angles going every which way. And be sure to identify patterns in the angles.

Thank you in advance,

Geoff Krall

City Manager