Friday, August 30, 2019

Data Collection Labs to Model Functions

Data Collection Labs to Model Functions

I've posted on this topic before ... but today I'm adding some resources! I hope this is helpful to those of you who teach a variety of functions!

Using lab explorations to introduce functions in Algebra provides engagement as well as data collection analysis activities. Students use everyday materials to collect data. The data describes specific functions. Here are a collection of "lab" activities I've tried in the past few years plus others that have been shared online!

Linear (and Quadratic) Function: Pass the Ball

All the information needed for this activity is in this blog post. Students pass a ball to one person, timing the event. Then to two people, three people, etc. This is a very easy lab to set up.

Another activity is the message/whisper chain.  Students will enjoy this lab!
The Wave Lab is also a great introductory lab suitable for linear functions!
Pass the Book is similar to the previous two!

If you teach Algebra 2 and want to review both linear and quadratic functions in a single activity ... consider this looking through a tube idea!

Quadratic Function: Stacking Starbursts and Kangaroo Conundrum

Both of these activities are simple, table top activities that result in quadratic patterns. I provide instructions in this blog post.

The Water Flow Lab looks fascinating ... 
And EVERYONE loves a catapult!  Check out this data collection opportunity!

Square Root Functions: Inclined Plane Data Collection

A copy of the instructions can be found here. Students roll a marble on an inclined plane - varying the distance of the roll, and measuring the time it takes to reach 0.

PhET has a pendulum virtual lab worth investigating if you don't have materials!

Exponential Functions: M 'n M Data Collection

This is popular for obvious reasons - students love to eat the m 'n ms after the experiment is complete. We do both parts ... exponential growth and decay. The handouts with instructions can be found here and here.

Paper folding also works for exponential functions ... and requires little preparation or materials!

Mathy Cathy explains how she uses the Sierpinski Triangle to model exponential functions!

Rational Functions: Spaghetti Cantilevers

Instructions are online.  Students bundle 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 pieces of spaghetti and hang a weight from the end without breaking the spaghetti.  They collect the data and analyze it.  The rational function is the model for the cantilever. 


Several labs are shared in this conference handout!

Also check out this Twitter thread where folks shared ideas for labs!

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