TURBO – Fun Conversion / Percent Problem

We just went and saw the movie Turbo.  Thank goodness for the math going on in my brain, otherwise I don’t think that I could sit through ONE MORE animated movie.  Anyway, at the beginning of the movie, it takes the little snail, Turbo, 17 minutes to go 36 inches.  At the end of the movie, he is moving at 226 mph.  I have the beginning video to show my students, but I can’t find a clip where Turbo goes around the track and lights up the 226 mph.  I’ll probably have to wait until the movie comes out on DVD, but that’s ok as we don’t do conversions for a while.  I wanted to go ahead and blog about this now though so I don’t forget!  Kids love when I bring movie clips into class, so I think they will have fun with this.

The Plan:

    • Show the 36″ in 17 minutes video clip.  The first 30 seconds.
  • Show the 226 video clip (once I find it).
  • Ask them what they notice and wonder using Max’s awesome Notice/Wonder form!
  • Discuss their noticing and wonderings, then formulate what we want to know.
  • Get down to the math in groups.  I’ll let them work on their own silently for a few minutes, then have them get together to discuss and help each other. (Thanks Fawn)
  • I may even play “That Snail is Fast”, just because.

The Math

  1. I would like for them to investigate how many miles per hour the 36″/17 minutes equates to.
  2. How much faster is the snail going (percent increase).  My student often have trouble doing percent increase when it is such a large percent.  This will be great!
  3. Anything else they come up with.
  4. I’m curious is 36″/17 min is how fast a snail actually goes.  I bet googling that will lead us to more conversion problems.
  5. I’m still working on follow-up / extension ideas.  So if you have any, throw them in the comments!

24 thoughts on “TURBO – Fun Conversion / Percent Problem

    • I know! Bring in some popcorn and they’ll think it’s really exciting! The exciting part for me is not telling them what I want them to find out. It’s letting them come up with the questions.

    • I find myself investigating this a little further on a Saturday morning (what the hell is wrong with me?). Andrew’s site says that a snail moves at a speed of 0.03 mph. That sounds fast for a snail. If Turbo was going that fast, it would only take him one minute to go 36 inches. However, another site (http://www.speedofanimals.com/animals/garden_snail) says that a snail typically moves at 1 mm/s, which is the same as 0.0022 mph. At that speed, a snail would take about 15 minutes to go 36 inches. That seems to fit better with the movie.

      Another approach for this lesson might be to give the students the speed (0.0022mph) and the distance, but not the time. That way you can pause the video and let it reveal the answer…which isn’t exact, but close.

      • What is wrong with you is that YOU are awesome! Seriously, thanks for bringing in all of these snail statistics. I didn’t see Andrew’s 101. I’m going to put my students ON THIS! 🙂

      • Hi guys!
        THere’s a lot of fun stuff here. I was just out walking one morning and took a picture thinking of this epic problem. I had no idea a movie was coming out. Seriously, I couldn’t tell you two movies that are in the theaters right now. I digress.
        The rate of the snail info was passed on to me from @Ignacio_Mancera and I just threw it in with Act 2 info. My lesson is very open-ended. I’m curious to see where you take this Julie. Personally, I’d love to get two snails and have them race in class. That would be a blast. It’s probably the equivalent of watching a game of electronic football men moving around in circles. Let me know if I can be of any help.

  1. I love this! The irony of “Turbo” for me is that we encountered a problem about snail speeds in our (generally crappy) textbook this year, WAAAY pre-Turbo! Students’ natural curiosity got them Googling about it (the snails in the problem seemed pretty speedy to us). This extension you’ve already set up so nicely, with the help of a few mathy friends, will be awesome to take to the classroom. Thanks!

    Here’s the post about the book problem… last November!
    http://www.mathycathy.com/blog/2012/11/using-the-ipad-to-test-the-textbook-snail-racing/

    • Cathy,

      That is great! And funny too bc Chris Robinson and I just ended our “fabulous snail extension twitter talk” this am with linears and of course, Desmos! Awesome!

  2. Such an awesome idea! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ll be on the lookout for that 226 mph clip. I’m wondering where I can find Max’s Notice/Wonder form. I attended his session of ‘Why 2 > 4’ at CAMT and loved the Notice/Wonder concept. I’m hoping to do it often in my classroom this year.

  3. Great find! There’s definitely a cool math lesson in here, and I’m sure students would be hooked. From my perspectives, there are a few questions in particular that jump out:

    1. How fast was the snail moving in the beginning? I agree with Nathan that giving students the speed and having them predict the time — and then verifying with the video — would make for a good three act. However, my main question here would be, “Where did the speed come from?” If it seems to fall out of the sky, then it risks demotivating the problem. In this case, I’d show them what actually exists — the distance (?) and the time — and have them calculate the speed. They’d most likely calculate this as 5.67 feet per minute, which is fine.

    2. At this rate, how long would it take to complete the Indianapolis 500? This would naturally prompt students to convert the speed to miles per hour, and would be motivated by the problem itself. 5.67 ft/min = 0.06 mph.

    3. Is it fair for a snail to race against a car? If not, how might we account for this…and how would this affect the results? 226 mph is fast for a car. It’s even more impressive, though, when you consider that Turbo is a snail. A NASCAR car is around 520 cm long, while a snail is around 3 cm. In a sense, then, when a car and a snail each travel one mile, the snail is effectively going 175 as far. This brings up a whole new set of questions, for instance: if the snail were car-sized, who would win? If the car were snail-sized, who would win? If the car drove 500 miles, how far would the snail have to go for its distance to be equivalent/proportional? Not only that, but, If Turbo originally went 0.06 mph, how fast would this have been on a human scale (0.06 mph x 175 = 10.5 mph, which means Turbo started out running faster than a 6 minute mile, which is pretty impressive!)

    Anyway, those are the questions that came to mind when I watched the video. Cool video!

    • Oops. I wrote that Turbo was effectively driving at 10.5 [car] miles per hour at the beginning of the movie, which was based on the car:snail ratio of 175:1.

      However, I was mistaken when I wrote that he was therefore running a 6-minute mile, since this implicitly shifts the comparison from a car to a human. If we wanted to calculate his effective running speed, we should compare Turbo to a human. (I’m not sure how to do this, though. After all, what would should we compare? Snail height to human height? Snail height to human stride? Stride to stride? Dunno.)

    • KARIM! Thanks for jumping in. You have awesome ideas as always.
      1. We can’t have them predict the speed or the distance in #1 as I’m sure enough kids have seen the movie to be a spolier. I was thinking how fast is the snail in miles per hour so they can compare to the ending speed of 226. The decimals are going to be tough for them, which is a good thing. We can talk about what that decimal means.

      2. I love this and had not even considered this. This will blow their minds!

      3. Repeat #2, but I’m not sure I want to throw in the size of the car at this point. I do love thinking about how “fast” Turbo is going though (a 6 minute mile). Chris had the idea of talking about fraction of a mile / fraction of an hour. This works well with the decimal WHAT question in #1. Also, we talked about RATES (and that is where your name came in)!

      Chris said to GDoc and crowd source it. Who knew a snail could be so exciting? I may have to blog about all of my unfinished lesson ideas. You all have been fabulous today!

  4. Okay, Karim’s #2 suggestion seems like a winning task. Show the movie clip, then ask how long it would take for Turbo to actually complete the Indy 500 at the 36″/17 min rate. I might actually have students painstakingly push a penny or other small object with a pencil eraser for 12 inches, not for 17 minutes, but for 1/3 of the 17 minutes, thereby going an equivalent rate. I want them to FEEL Turbo’s speed. Have students calculate the time after they give guesses (which should vary wildly.) I believe it’ll work out to just under 15 million minutes. That’s outrageous. I’d ask students to tell me how long that is in concrete terms. Is that a decade? A lifetime? A month? I guess if they know the Rent song they’ll have an idea.

    I also really like the 3rd extension in which the snail becomes the size of the car, or vice versa.

    • Oh! I love it all. I LOVE having the students guesstimate how long it would take, then, calculating this in minutes and converting it into a more understandable length of time. Also, fun with pushing along an object that slowly (in place of Andrew’s snails of course). Our students garden frequently, so they could probably find one. I doubt they would cooperate however. 🙂 Thanks!

  5. Julie this is so great! And another example of the MTBOS at work! You put up a great idea and your friends make it even better!!

  6. I LOVE this idea and am just now wanting to try this out. Where are you finding the video clips at? I tried clicking on the ones you provided but the address can’t be found.

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