Hanging Chains

This Hanging Chains lesson plan also includes:

Hang by the ends of a chain to find the equation of a parabola. Class members determine the equation of a parabola that closely models the curve formed by a hanging chain. Using a coordinate axis, groups pick points to create a system of equations to solve to find the values of the parameters of a quadratic equation. With the aid of a projected graphing calculator, learners compare their parabolas to the chains.

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CCSS: Adaptable
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Instructional Ideas

  • Find the equation using both the procedure outlined and by using transformations to compare the resulting equations
Classroom Considerations

  • Be aware of basic information about a catenary
  • The class should be comfortable solving systems of linear equations

  • Provides a detailed description of the procedure to find the standard equation of the parabola from a graph
  • Includes questions for the teacher to reflect upon the lesson

  • None