Education Technology

Introduction to Parabolas

Activity Overview

Students start with a simple paper folding task that leads to a dynamic geometry approach to the construction of a parabolas. Students gain a better appreciation of a parabola and its properties when they know how it is constructed.

Objectives

The aim of this activity is to provide students with a greater understanding of parabola, beyond the 'u' shaped curve. A parabola has specific properties that make them very useful in the world around us yet the algebraic equation is incredibly simple. The terms focus and directrix are used (not eccentricity), however they are only used in the construction and to provide the understanding about the distance from the curve to the focus and the curve to the directrix.

Vocabulary

  • Parabola
  • Perpendicular
  • Bisector
  • Congruent
  • Locus
  • Focus
  • Directrix

About the Lesson

Watch Activity Tutorial

Students start with a paper folding activity to produce the envelope of a parabola. The dynamic geometry representation on TI-Nspire provides an opportunity for students to discover the geometric construction leading to the geometric properties (conic section) of a parabola and the natural algebraic (Cartesian) equation.