Real Life Vectors- Planes Landing In Crosswinds

I had a real challenge trying to convince my year 11s today of the awe-and-wonder of vectors and how we could have achieved little as a human race without them. I explained how I used to design buildings taking advantage of the wonderful addition properties of vectors by taking all the forces on a building and summing them such that I could design the building just to resist their single resultant force. They didn’t see the beauty of it so here’s my second ploy:

We’ve all seen the ‘canoeist crosses a river’ vector question where the the flow of water in the river ensures they take a diagonal path rather than one perpendicular to the bank. The following approach is an alternative take on this kind of problem.

First start by showing them this video:

Top Ten Crosswind Landings

Next, ask them how they think vectors might be involved in getting those planes to land safely.

After that, set them this problem:

Click here to download the resource.

Scroll through the slides to view the solution.

If ever you want a real world example of how vital vectors are then this should hopefully convince your students!

2 Responses

  1. tamoor malik says:

    very nice effort

  1. 21/11/2011

    […] This post has a great idea for teaching vectors and/or trig within the context of planes landing in crosswinds – even more exciting if you spruce it up with some youtube clips of scary landings in high winds (the youtube link on the page is, sadly, now defunct). Alternatively, try this post which has a lovely idea for “Top Trumps” cards on polygons. You’ll need a google account to view and download the documents though. […]

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