Classroom Activity

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Key Topics: Applications of Differentiation

Students will utilize graphing calculators to make applications of differentiation to the mission data of a space shuttle ascent phase.

Students will
  • create and analyze scatterplots given a table;
  • find regression functions using a graphing calculator;
  • apply the first derivative test to find local extrema;
  • find inflection points to analyze the concavity of a function; and
  • make connections to real world problems.


Files for use with the TI-84 Plus™
› Space Shuttle Ascent Educator Edition (PDF 169 KB)
› Space Shuttle Ascent Student Edition (PDF 122 KB)
› Space Shuttle Ascent Data Files (ZIP 15 KB)

Files for use with the TI-Nspire™
› Space Shuttle Ascent TI_Nspire Educator Edition (PDF 701 KB)
› Space Shuttle Ascent TI_Nspire Student Edition (PDF 264 KB)
Note: The following files are software specific files for Texas Instrument Nspire calculators.
› Space Shuttle Ascent TI_Nspire Document (TNS 238 KB)
› Space Shuttle Ascent TI_Nspire Document w/ Solutions (TNS 247 KB)

Required Media
› VIDEO: STS-121 Launch
› Google Earth Ascent-Trajectory Tour (KMZ 21 KB)  (Note: This file requires Google Earth to be installed on the users computer. The application is available for download at →.)

Related Resources
› WEBSITE: Shuttle and Station Missions
› VIDEO: NASA EDGE Tribute to the Space Shuttle