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Using the Mustang to Teach Math

ChrisM

Mostly harmless.
1,084
1,243
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
3-5 Years
SoCal
I have an unusual request. My mom is currently teaching a 6th grade algebra class. A couple of the boys expressed an interest in cars and becoming mechanics, which lead to a larger discussion about how math is used to work on cars. My mom has asked me to video chat in next week and provide some mentoring, using my (lack of) knowledge about cars to make it interesting. My current plan is to actually use the Mustang as a prop, but I'd really like to hear examples of how you've used math (specifically algebra) when working on your cars or at the track. Thanks for your input!
 
1,077
1,024
In the V6L
I have an unusual request. My mom is currently teaching a 6th grade algebra class. A couple of the boys expressed an interest in cars and becoming mechanics, which lead to a larger discussion about how math is used to work on cars. My mom has asked me to video chat in next week and provide some mentoring, using my (lack of) knowledge about cars to make it interesting. My current plan is to actually use the Mustang as a prop, but I'd really like to hear examples of how you've used math (specifically algebra) when working on your cars or at the track. Thanks for your input!
There are a lot of options here.

- Torque (as in nuts and bolts) - force at a distance turning a bolt - why are torque wrenches with bigger numbers always longer too?
- air:fuel ratios in combustion - ecu's compute this constantly
- speeds and tire revolutions per mile
- brakes - how much force does it take to stop a car? How much heat does it generate?

the list goes on...
 
532
521
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
10-20 Years
Kansas City, Missouri
Calculate cubic inches
Bore x Bore x Stroke x # of Cyl x .7854

Calculate tire diameters size from the stamped size
315/30-18
((315mm wide / 25.4 to convert to inch) x .3) x 2 + 18 = height

Calculate the change in tire size on top speed given RPM & Gear Ratio


Look at this website > http://www.wallaceracing.com/Calculators.htm
You could make up about anything you wanted.
 

Dave_W

Cones - not just for ice cream
526
559
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Connecticut
teaching negative numbers
Add up all the marketing HP increases of the parts you put on and compare to the dyno results - you can teach imaginary numbers. :D

Take the tire height above post, convert to circumference, find revolutions/mile.

Assuming 1.00 top gear and 3.55 diff R&P, find engine rpm at 60mph based on above tire revs/mile. Find change in cruising rpm when you change top gear to 0.80 overdrive. Do again changing R&P ratio instead.

Assuming 3.6 first gear, 3.55 diff R&P, and tire radius from above post, and 300 lbf-ft torque at crank, find pounds-force at contact patch of tire pushing car forward. Then do the same for 4.11 R&P.

Take pounds-force at contact patch and divide by weight of car (e.g., 3500 lbs.), and you get acceleration in g's. Lighten car by 500 pounds and find new acceleration rate. Note: when using pounds-force, the F=ma formula uses slugs for mass, but I'm using the weight of the car as pounds-force from acceleration of Earth's gravity to just find a ratio of longitudinal acceleration from the engine compared to 1g vertical acceleration from gravity.
 
4,388
4,785
God bless your mom, I was learning algebra in 8th grade and just couldn't grasp it, my parents knew a teacher and she taught me a different method, I was so proud of myself when the teacher asked me to put my assignment on the board, because I finally knew what to do. That jackass marked it wrong, along with the rest of my homework, because I didn't use his method, and did it right in front of the class. It was like turning off a light switch.. done.
The good side of it was that I ended up writing the hydraulic manual for my fire department and of course, do the temp/ pressure curves for race teams. I created a method using rounded numbers based on actual friction loss in the hoses so the driver/engineer could pump water effectively when the scene is chaotic and stressful.
I WISH someone had done that for me in 8th grade.

Here's some contributions..
 
Last edited:
6th grade algebra is simple stuff with finding variables. Even a simple thing like checking the oil could be algebra. We do algebra in our heads everyday.

A mustang holds 8 qts or oil. The dipsticks total volume is 1 qt between the dots. There are 7.5 quarts of oil left in the car. Where is the dipstick reading if you checked the oil? (1/2 way between the dots) 8 - x = 7.5

My car has 412 hp. I want to soup it up so I have 500 hp . Show me how much more hp I need in an algebra equation.
412 + x = 500

A set of OEM stock wheels weights 35 pounds each. You purchased racing wheels that weight 27 lbs each. What is the value of y and the weight savings? 35 - y = 27

A set of 4 tires costs $1600 but want to order an extra 2 tires because you will be burning rubber with my new 500 hp! How much will it cost for a set of tires plus 2 extra tires? 4x = 1600 then 4x + 2x = y

I saw a driver not being responsible and driving too fast on the road. As a result he slid and hit a curb ending up with a flat tire and broken wheel. A set of 4 tires cost $1600 and set of 4 wheels cost $2000. What is the cost for a replacement wheel and tire?
4x = 1600
4y = 2000
x + y = z

When running on the track my hot running tire pressure was 34 pounds per square inch. What was my starting pressure if the tire pressure went up 6 pounds. x + 6 = 34

Sorry, I go stuck on wheels and tires.
 
These are all outstanding, thank you. She just let me know they're expanding the audience a bit to include kids from other classes. Now I'll actually have to build a lesson plan. I'm with @blacksheep-1 , I wish someone had taught me math this way.
Do 2 burnouts in the parking lot, have them measure them with a tape measure and then out the difference in length as an algebra equation! Then using the shorted burnout have them figure out how may burnouts it would take to do the entire length of the parking lot. 😂
 

ChrisM

Mostly harmless.
1,084
1,243
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
3-5 Years
SoCal
Do 2 burnouts in the parking lot, have them measure them with a tape measure and then out the difference in length as an algebra equation! Then using the shorted burnout have them figure out how may burnouts it would take to do the entire length of the parking lot. 😂
Ha, only if they'll pay for tires!
 
1,077
1,024
In the V6L
These are all outstanding, thank you. She just let me know they're expanding the audience a bit to include kids from other classes. Now I'll actually have to build a lesson plan. I'm with @blacksheep-1 , I wish someone had taught me math this way.
As the audience gets bigger it'll also be more diverse, so more than just performance stuff. For instance, how about the difference in cost to travel a mile in a gasoline powered car and an electric? Miles per gallon => gallons => dollars vs the same type of calculation for a Tesla. Might be fun for the kids who don't care about horsepower.
 

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