Math Mondays: Creating parabolic shapes

This past week we had some fun with lines and parabolic shapes.  First, let me say that this was not an original idea on my part.  If you do a quick internet search for "parabolic art", you will find thousands of post.  A quick perusal of the first few entries are enough to get started.

Parabolic curves are made from straight lines.  The simplest curve can be created by drawing a right angle.  Mark each side of the angle evenly.  Draw a line from the farthest mark on one line to the closest on the next line. Continue with the second farthest to the second nearest.  And so on...soon your straight lines form a curve, which is cool in itself.

But then, you and your students can start "playing."  Different designs can be created and challenges can be placed.  For example, how do you create a circle with parabolic curves?  The circle shown to the right came about after several attempts that formed ellipses.  

Or, what happens when you expand or condense the distance between marks?  Or how can you create an isometric figure?

I love the problem solving of this activity combined with the simplicity of it.  All you need is a straight edge, some graph paper (or a ruler) and pencil.  Plus, it is perfect for bringing a little "S.T.E.A.M." into your class.

If you want to try it, one of my favorite set of examples comes from this art teacher.  Great to get you started.  

Math Mondays is a weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message on Facebook or at the store in the question and answer section. 



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