My favorite project in PAP Algebra 2 is our conics project. The students must sketch a picture using conics and other functions. They must write the equations to match their sketch. Then they enter the equations into a graphing utility. The final picture is printed by me and then colored by the student.

This project has undergone many changes from the number and type of required equations to the graphing utility.

When I first started this project, we were using TI-84s, so the students had to write a program to create their picture. It was such a hassle because you had to run the program from the beginning to see what the picture looked like. It took a long time to run because it graphed the equations in sequential order. Then if anything was wrong, you had to stop the program at just the right time to correct the mistake. Syntax mistakes were among the most common. The printed pictures were very pixelated.

I was so excited when the TI-Nspire came out because the students could enter all the equations on a graph page. You didn’t have to wait for a program to run to see if an equation was correct. It was also nice because you no longer had to use “and” for domain restrictions, instead you could enter compound inequalities. Also, the printed pictures were no longer pixelated, since the resolution on the TI-Nspire was so much better than the TI-84.

This year, we used Desmos to create our pictures. The student no longer needed to solve for y, and they could restrict the domain, the range, or both. They could also enter multiple domain or range restrictions for the equations. Since Desmos is a free website, the students could work on their project from any internet-enabled device.

A PowerPoint slide show of this year’s projects is linked below.

Conic Projects 2015