Quadratic Equations in Word Problems Students Can Relate To

byNancy Rudolph

This unit is based on a collection of quadratic word problems that are intended to be relevant to teenagers, and are organized differently from traditional math textbooks. Progressing through the problems, students' quadratic-solving skills should improve, and they should gain a better understanding of how each small change affects the solution and/or the choice of solution method. The unit begins with projectile motion problems that relate to sports since most teenagers can relate to them, and because the parabolic path of objects in flight, as a function of time, is visually represented by the graph of the quadratic function. They move on to geometry problems where they will gain much-needed practice in setting up and solving area and volume equations based on information given in word problems. And finally, they study the effects of dilations (changes in scale factor) on area. While the dilation problems are written specifically for vocational students, many of them address interests of typical high school students. The unit assumes students are able to find x-intercepts and coordinates of the vertex of a quadratic function by factoring, using the Quadratic Formula, or examining a graph or table on a graphing calculator.

(Developed for Integrated Math III, grades 10-11; recommended for Algebra I and Algebra II, grades 9-12)

Comments (3)

    Kate Lewicki (Gahanna Middle School East, Gahanna, OH)
    Subject taught: Honors Algebra, Grade: 8
    quadratic word problems
    Thank you!! I am always trying to write word problems that answer the question "Why did I have to learn this?" I am very grateful that you have given me so many ideas. I teach a group of advanced students, and I am always trying to keep them interested. Too many math books have too few applications problems and/or problems that are irrelevant.
    Lieschen Beth Johnson (Peet Jr. High, Conroe, TX)
    Subject taught: Algebra I Pre-AP (7th & 8th grade), Grade: 8
    thank you
    I loved this article and found it to be very helpful when I was looking for a resource of word problems for our quadratics unit. I loved the analysis of types of word problems that are quadratic in nature.
    priya vijayakumar (Mississauga Hr.Sec School, Mississauga, ON)
    Subject taught: , Grade: 10
    I am happy to go thro' your article ,as a student I learned how to tackle the math problem analytically and your work give me a great picture to split the problem and implement the formula in right direction and by the way it will be ease for the student like me to follow .Thank you so much .

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