11-13 yrs old
Math & Economics
This lesson plan was the finishing point for a brief introduction to quadratic functions.
January 13, 2017
Roller coasting through Functions
To determine the time it takes for a roller coaster to reach the bottom of its tallest drop. Students conclude by creating their own roller coasters.
Example of students final product 1
A student´s roller coaster model having scale in consideration.
Example of students final product 2
Guidelines of the project for the parents
Table and graph 1
An example of student´s work.
Table and graph 2
This lesson is the finishing point of the activity started by NCTM Illuminations (see External References).
As students complete the tables regarding the values for time and height, substituting the values in the "roller coaster" function, they will see at what points the roller coaster is as it drops from its highest point.
1. Students evaluate the given functions by substituting the time variable to see how long each rollercoaster takes from its highest point until zero.
2. Students choose their own value for s, in the function h = s - 16t^2, where s represents the highest point, create a data table and graph the function.
3. Students model their own roller coasters in Minecraft, by approximation, representing the drop and being creative about the rest of the roller coaster.
As quadratic functions were not part of the curriculum, the study of these functions involved only simple substitution into formula and determining its zeros, by approximation. Students were expected to build their representations of the given function by choosing their own s in the formula h = s - 16t^2, where s represents the highest point.
One of the constrains was setting a proper scale for each minecraft block in order to correctly model the highest point.
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