Parabolas in Nature

Presented by: Abby Cornelius

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


Students studying parabolas in Honors Algebra II find an example of a parabola and take a digital picture of it. They use this picture along with Adobe Fireworks, TI-83 (or higher) graphing calculators, TI-Connect Software and PowerPoint to graph the parabola from the picture and then find the equation (quadratic regression) of the line. Students use the software programs to import the graph of the line and super-impose it onto the digital picture. Students finally create a PowerPoint presentation and present the information to the class while incorporating research about the type of curve they chose.



Assignment & Assignment Rubric-Abby Cornelius

Sample project-Traci Putnam & Abby Cornelius


Direct Instruction:

·         Students and math teacher come to the library media center for instruction on best practices for taking a picture of a parabola.

·         Classroom teacher instructs students on quadratic regressions.

·         Classroom teacher instructs students essential values such as x and y-intercepts, axis of symmetry, and vertex.

·         Classroom teacher instructs students on use of TI graphing calculator to find quadratic regressions.

·         TL instructs students on proper use of Fireworks to import and edit a picture.

·         TL instructs students on overlaying a grid onto the picture.

·         TL instructs students on the use of the TI-Connect software to create a graph and import it into Fireworks.

·         TL instructs students on importing the finished picture into PowerPoint and labeling the picture.

·         TL instructs students on research techniques to find information about their parabola. 

·         TL instructs students on the creation of a Works Cited slide for the information in the presentation.


Modeling and Guided Practice:

·         TL and classroom teacher model a presentation for students on the St. Louis Arch.

·         TL models appropriate search techniques while using databases.

·         TL models proper use of TI-Connect and graphing calculator.


Independent Practice: 

·         Students take a picture of a parabola in the real world.

·         Students import the picture to Fireworks and overlay a grid.

·         Students use the grid and picture to plot points for their quadratic regression.

·         Students use graphing calculator to create a graph of their picture.

·         Students use TI-Connect and Fireworks to overlay the graph on their picture.

·         Students research their parabola.

·         Students create a PowerPoint presentation of their picture and research complete with a “Works Cited” page.


Sharing and Reflecting:

·         Students present their project to the class.

·         Students write a Thank You note to the people that helped make this project possible.

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