When 2010 met 1979 – Resource for Teaching Isomorphic Problems and Retrieval

This is a video discussing the oil spill that happened in both 2010 and 1979.  It discusses the strategies used by the United States government in 2010 to try to solve the problem, which were exactly the same as the attempts in 1979 and that each attempt produced the same results.  This is actually a very funny video (although the situation itself is not) which is poking fun at the U.S. and their strategies.  However, this can be a great educational resource to engage and teach students the important of understanding isomorphic problems and the retrieval strategy (both used in math classes).

Isomorphic problems are “similar or identical in structure or appearance to” another problem.  The retrieval strategy (in math) is where one is able to recognize that a question they are working on is isomorphic to another question they have solved before and uses similar methods to solve the problem.

These are both important, especially in math.  If students cannot make connections and see the relationship in different content and questions, they will feel as if they are learning a whole lot more (and harder material) than they actually should and trying to solve problems will be much more complicated than it should be.  Also, a study found that retrieval is very important in consolidating learning.  There are also many other reasons that understanding and recognizing isomorphic problems and using retrieval is very important, one being this video, which as funny as it was, it was a disaster than may not have gotten as severe as it had.


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