Modeling standards are marked with a star/asterisk at the end of the standard. This denotes that it is a modeling standard from the Modeling conceptual category. Modeling is best interpreted not as a collection of isolated topics but in relation to other standards. Making mathematical models is a Standard for Mathematical Practice, and specific modeling standards appear throughout the high school standards indicated by a star symbol (★). It is important to note that there are 61 specific modeling standards throughout the high school standards. Look for a star/asterisk in the course descriptions to delineate.
One of the insights provided by mathematical modeling is that essentially the same mathematical or statistical structure can sometimes model seemingly different situations. Models can also shed light on the mathematical structures themselves, for example, as when a model of bacterial growth makes more vivid the explosive growth of the exponential function.
The basic modeling cycle involves (1) identifying variables in the situation and selecting those that represent essential features, (2) formulating a model by creating and selecting geometric, graphical, tabular, algebraic, or statistical representations that describe relationships between the variables, (3) analyzing and performing operations on these relationships to draw conclusions, (4) interpreting the results of the mathematics in terms of the original situation, (5) validating the conclusions by comparing them with the situation, and then either improving the model or, if it is acceptable, (6) reporting on the conclusions and the reasoning behind them. Choices, assumptions, and approximations are present throughout this cycle.
In descriptive modeling, a model simply describes the phenomena or summarizes them in a compact form. Graphs of observations are a familiar descriptive model— for example, graphs of global temperature and atmospheric CO2 over time. Analytic modeling seeks to explain data on the basis of deeper theoretical ideas, albeit with parameters that are empirically based; for example, exponential growth of bacterial colonies (until cutoff mechanisms such as pollution or starvation intervene) follows from a constant reproduction rate. Functions are an important tool for analyzing such problems. Graphing utilities, spreadsheets, computer algebra systems, and dynamic geometry software are powerful tools that can be used to model purely mathematical phenomena (e.g., the behavior of polynomials) as well as physical phenomena.




