makerPBL - Projecting Parabolas – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
HSA.CED.A1, HSA.CED.A2, Fab-Fabrication.1, Fab-Design.1, Fab-Safety.2, Fab-Modeling.2
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Jennifer Mitchell
K-12 teacher


The Unit is designed to introduce/reinforce the student’s knowledge of quadratic functions. The unit will begin with PHET simulations on the characteristics of quadratic functions, applying their knowledge to digitally fabricate a parabola, and then using the parabola’s graph to identify all of the key features to determine its equation.

Lesson Materials

The Instructions

Essential Question and Hook Event

Using the hook event, introduce students to the essential question, "How might we, as structural engineers, design and use a 3D model of a parabola, to derive the corresponding quadratic equation?"

Quadratic Blindness: Students will be asked to collect data, they are required to take or record at least 10 sites/events that involve quadratics around them. If students have no idea what a quadratic is they may have to do a little research on their own first. Then students will report their findings and watch a video on how Quadratics are used in careers.


Scaffolding and Class Activities

Students will use simulations, games, and online activities to reinforce their knowledge of quadratics and its key features.

Class Activities

  • PHET simulations (at least 9 activities)
  • Investigating graphs of Quadratic Functions
  • Desmos- creating quadratic functions
  • Angry Birds- projection of an object
  • Spring Board textbook


Station Activities 

  • Solving real-world quadratic problems 
  • Spot it: Pinterest activity
  • Foldable and flowcharts
  • Students will build a catapult to place a particular object into a specified area



  • These will be driven by using Nearpod and/or Educreation. Online/apps that can be used to address student learning, re-teaching components of how to solve quadratic function.


Digital Fabrication and Final Product

Students or student groups will be able to use any digital fabrication tools they choose to create a model of a parabola found in the real world. Then they will graph that parabola and identify its key features to determine its equation.


How might we, as structural engineers, design and use a 3D model of a parabola, to derive the corresponding quadratic equation?

You are turning in 2 things by the end: 

1. Product (created in e-lab)

2. Analysis and Student Reflection


Here are the following guidelines:

  • Your product
  • Must include a product YOU created from tools in the elab.  
  • If you are using wood simply drawing something on a piece of wood and cutting it out with the scroll saw is not acceptable; if you are using the 3-D printer simply dropping and dragging pre-created items is not acceptable; BE CREATIVE
  • You must submit an analysis after you finish your product
  • Typed, 12 times new roman, double spaced, 100 word min. Or neatly written
  • Things to touch upon
  • Drawing of your product on a coordinate plane
  • Identify at least 5 points that is a solution to the graph.
  • Depending on your graph, label each of the following on your graphs:
  • Quadratics- find vertex, x and y intercepts, AOS, identify maximum/minimum points, write equation in standard form, vertex form, and factored form.
  • Polynomials- x and y intercepts, identify absolute maximum/minimum points, identify relative maximum/minimum points, write the equation in standard form, identify the increasing and decreasing intervals

Student Reflection:

  • What changes could be made to improve the product if it had to be done again.
  • What challenges were faced when creating the products

SUBMISSION: Products will be placed on display in room during class, analysis, and student reflection will be turned into teacher by _____.



  • (HSA.CED.A1): Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems. Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions.
  • (HSA.CED.A2): Create equations in two or more variables to represent relationships between quantities; graph equations on coordinate axes with labels and scales.
  • (Fab-Fabrication.1): I can follow instructor guided steps that link a software to a machine to produce a simple physical artifact.
  • (Fab-Design.1): I can be responsible for various activities throughout a design process within a group under instructor guidance.
  • (Fab-Safety.2): I can operate equipment in a Fab Lab following safety protocols.
  • (Fab-Modeling.2): I can construct compound shapes and multi-part components ready for physical production using multiple representations.

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