Mathematical Desk Murders (AKA Failing to Use an Evenly Spaced Scale!!)

There’s something going on with the desks at my school.  They are literally falling apart.  During the first week of school, one girl sat down in her desk and it gave way right from under her. She didn’t get hurt, but it very much startled her. (Is it terribly mean that I keep kicking myself that I didn’t see it happen?)  We pulled the desk over to the door and there it sat for a few days until the custodians hauled it off to the dumpster and replaced it with another.

The first desk casualty.

The first desk casualty.

I’ve got another desk in my class that isn’t entirely broken – but it’s on its way. The seat of the desk is only partially attached, so the seat bounces when students sit down or stand up.  One girl nearly fell out of it when she sat down.

This past Friday, my third period class took a quiz.  After they left, I was moving one of the desks back to its regular spot (students separate their desks for quizzes) and it gave way as soon as I tugged on it.

The second desk casualty.

The second desk casualty.

I’ve never had issues like this with the desks before, but apparently my room is not the only one in which the desks are falling apart.  Students report that another desk broke when a girl sat down in it in History.

I stood on one of the desks to hang a poster the other day. The whole class held their breath until I was done and a couple kids stood ready to catch me should the desk give way while I was standing on it. That particular desk hasn’t broken yet. But give it time and it will.

This has me wondering, “What is causing this sudden outbreak of desk death?” Is there some sort of furniture virus infecting the desks at my school?  Thanks to @MathyMeg07 and @Bowmanimal, I recently learned that there are some mathematical sins that result in the death of small furry animals  and on occasion even unicorns. Could it be that there is some mathematical sin being committed on the part of my students that is resulting in the sudden outbreak of desk death? I was determined to diagnose this disease and do my level best to prevent further untimely desk demise.

Considering that the desk death took place immediately following the quiz in 3rd period, I wondered if this might be the best place to start looking for solutions to this problem. After carefully inspecting the quizzes, I can say with confidence that I have found the source of the desk destruction:

Uneven Scale Desk Death copy

Though I have talked with my students repeatedly about the need to choose an evenly spaced scale and have even given them a group assignment to analyze the common errors made when graphing, my students persist in choosing whatever numbers seem to fit their fancy and placing them wherever they please on the axes.  Unable to bear up under the weight of such mathematical blasphemy, the desks are collapsing in despair.

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