This activity center is used as a formative assessment after a full unit on the different transformations of vertical parabolas.
Before the Activity
Individual instruction is left up to the teacher in this case. This activity is used as a review for a formal assessment or wrap-up activity. Every year I search the internet for different images to use.
During the Activity
I ask the students to submit an equation that comes as close to one of the dinosaur ribs (the students choose which one) as possible. No parabolas will fit exactly but have the students try to match the right side of the ribs, that works the best. The image was taken by me in Chicago O'Hare Airport of a brontosaurus skeleton. I try to emphasize the symmetry found in most skeletal arrangements.
After the Activity
A review worksheet that mimics the activity center. I usually have a review sheet for a formal quiz or test where students have to model a parabola transformation and describe why the transformations occur.
I tailor this differently from year to year, but I basically take another picture pasted into MS Word and have the students complete a similar activity on paper.