STEM BLOSSOMS Video Mathematics Fence Up Your Equation

  • ID: 5937


Hadi Faizal Bin Mohd Rosely
Mathematics Teacher
Seri Puteri Science Girls School
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Dr. Abdul Halim Abdullah
Dr. Mahani Mokhtar
Dr. Norazrena Binti Abu Samah
Faculty of Education
Universiti Teknologi

Prof Richard C. Larson
Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


The wonder of mathematics is that it can apply to so many different parts of our lives. A Malaysian farmer buys some sheep and needs to create a fenced-in pen, one side of which is a pre-existing wall. He also buys 25 meters of flexible fence. The father challenges his son, who likes math, to figure out how to design the fenced-in area for the sheep so that they will have maximum grass to eat, to stay healthy. This is a lesson in mathematical modeling, geometry, quadratic equations and optimization. Students will see how to formulate a mathematical model of a very real situation and how to optimize the design of the system they are modeling. They will see clearly how math helps the farmer and his sheep! Various geometrical shapes of the fenced-in pen are considered. The optimization methods range from trial and error, all the way to differential calculus (for advanced students). The compelling farm application of this problem should take away much of the students’ perceived mystery of quadratic equations. If two class sessions can be devoted to this topic, then we recommend that the first one be the BLOSSOMS lesson by Professor Gil Strang, “The Quadratic Equation: It’s Hip to Be Squared,” located here:’s_hip_be_squared

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STEM BLOSSOMS Video Physics Soaring in The Wind: The Science of Kite Flying

  • ID: 5934

Roselainy Binti Abdul Rahman
Habibah Norehan Binti Hj Haron
Nor Azizi Binti Mohamed
Salwani Binti Mohd. Daud
Norzaida Binti Abas
Hafiza Binti Abas
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur Campus
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Flying kites is a popular hobby in Malaysia and very much part of the culture. This lesson looks at kite flying science to introduce basic ideas related to the dynamics of kite flying and can be used as an extension of a physics lesson, especially after the students have learned about forces. It will focus on some of the concepts such as weight, thrust, lift and drag. It is a fun way to introduce the forces acting upon a kite and the scientific principles that allow a kite to fly. The lesson is suitable for students in secondary school. It will help students relate to the effect of forces and gives an introduction to the science of flight. As an added value, the video will also share some information about Malaysian kites which are “tailless”. The Malaysian kite is called “Wau” (pronounced “wow”), and there are many distinctive designs since each Malaysian state has its own official Wau. Malaysia has 14 states. The break activities included are to be conducted in the classroom, and students are to work in small groups on the questions given in the lesson. Students are to carry out two simple experiments to study how air flows on a kite.

The objectives of the lesson are for students to:

identify and know which forces make kites fly; relate the flight dynamics to the anatomy of the kite; and understand the physical variables contributing flight.

The lesson is about 50 minutes long including the class activities.

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