Using Exponential Functions to Show the Impact New Technological Discoveries Have Had on Culture and Society

Christian Lott, Mathematics, West Mecklenburg High School

Final Unit (PDF)  Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)


In this unit, students will research, observe, analyze, and evaluate data that
shows multiple trends in technology advancements over a period of about 471 years to
present. The unit will start with The Scientific Revolution, which was the period that
began the advancements of the technology outlined in this unit. This unit provides
students with many cross-curricular connections. Students will learn about the history of
the Scientific Revolution and technology, they will learn about scientific methods that
enabled some of the technological innovations, they will learn about important scientist
through many literature readings, and they will most importantly understand the
mathematical concept of exponential functions through these many investigations the unit
provides. Students will choose a current technological tool (e.g. telephone, cell phone,
computer, and television) and research the connections this tool had to its historical
equivalent during the era of The Scientific Revolution and beyond. The students will
basically research the tool or service that was used back then to compensate for the
current technology tools we have all been so accustomed to using now. Upon gathering
the data the students will then look for any trends this tool has had in culture and society.
The goal is for students to see an exponential growth in the current technology and notice
an exponential decay in the previous technology. When this connection between growth
and decay is made, the last portion of the unit will embed the financial aspect of the
technology, compound interest, where students will have to determine the profit,
expenses, interest rate, etc. of these technology tools. The concept of compound interest
relates to the topic of exponential functions, because in order for the students to calculate
profit, expenses, and interest rates, they must use an exponential function.