Parabolas Are All Around Us

This Parabolas Are All Around Us activity & project also includes:

Moving parabolas off of graph paper and into the real world is the task at hand in this detailed poster project. First, learners perform a cumulative activity identifying many characteristics of an assigned quadratic equation. Next, they identify parabolas in the world around them and present their findings in a poster project. The included rubric helps guide the class through the process of investigating a math concept and then cleaning their findings up for presentation, a process that will serve them well through their STEM classes and beyond.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Consider displaying finished posters as part of an open house or parent-teacher conference night
  • Take a math nature walk to find examples of parabolas and other math concepts
  • Work with a physical science or physics class to include development of parabolas in physical situations, like projectile motion
  • Extend the project by having learners or groups find pictures of a real-life parabola, overlay a grid, and develop approximate quadratic equations to represent the picture
Classroom Considerations

  • Each group's quadratic equation could be specifically chosen for differentiation purposes or randomly assigned from a list
  • Develop equations that groups are assigned before class, perhaps similar to your own textbook examples
  • Take care that the characteristics identified in the project are the same identified as key by your curriculum
  • Project write-up is specific to the school district of the writer

  • Detailed instructions and accompanying rubric
  • Project point spread emphasizes correct math and procedure over pretty presentation
  • Integration of nature / environmental math into potentially abstract assignment
  • Learners encouraged to personalize and develop their project beyond answering algebraic questions with correct numbers

  • No sample quadratic equations provided
  • No model projects or graded exemplars available