Can Quadratics Really Be Fun?

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

Geometry teachers often have the advantage when relating content concepts to real world application. Everyday, we see parallel and perpendicular lines, angles, and polygons all around us, but take another look and you will also see parabolas (the U-shaped curve) all around as well! What does that mean for your students?


Two of the main core strategies in the CARE Model are building relationships (R) and giving students experiences the impact emotions (E). With a few creative steps, you can incorporate both and even bring interest to completing the square! The acronym CARE is there for a reason. As a teacher, you must find out what your students care about and incorporate that into your lessons. Develop a project that gives your students choices. It helps them take ownership of the project and gives them interest in what they are doing. As you assign the project, you will also better get to know your students by learning what their interests are, resulting in building relationship.


In the photo, you see a skate-park filled with parabolas. For your skate or snow boarders, you may have peaked their interest just a little. Transpose one of the parabolic curves shown onto a coordinate grid and you can now begin discussing the vertex and the different parts of the quadratic equation in standard form. For example, what happens when you adjust the width of the skate ramp?


What about other students with other interests? There are parabolic curves everywhere. Do they like to travel? Find arches in architecture. Are they into farming or FFA? I've seen cows with sagging parabolic-curved stomachs. Sports? The path a football takes from the quarterback's hand to the receiver is often parabolic. That path is found in most sports! Have them find, draw, or take a picture and transpose it on a graph, and the possibilities of exploring quadratic functions are endless.


Are you having trouble getting your students to learn how to complete the square? Entice them with square graham crackers stuffed with a chocolate square and marshmallow as a reward, then have them do some more (S'more)! Once you are creative, your students will be creative, and once they can picture a quadratic function, learning the different methods to solve the function by finding the x-interceps just became a little more enticing. Have fun!


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