There has been quite a bit of buzz around the concept of building a death star (from the movie star wars) and it actually showed up on kickstarter: Kickstarter Death Star
I show this to the students and then show the response from the president (he was asked to fund the building of the death star):
I like to ask the class what their thoughts are. Is this impossible? Did they raise enough? Could we figure out how much it would cost to build the death star?
I give them 15 minutes to read and annotate the article (I always ask the humanities teacher for advice on this. I want to use the same language an teaching moves when it come to reading): Death Star Article.docx
The article has comments, but that is for the discussion only. After they read the article, I talk them through those key annotations.
Here are some back up videos in case students are absent:
Here we read another article on the cost of the death star: How much would a Death Star really cost_.pdf and then debate the merits of both articles. How would students make their own estimate? Does either article do a good job in estimation? What would they change? Is this a hopeless problem?