Look through the Light It Up Activity Sheet.
Light It Up Activity Sheet
Do the activity sheet in advance to familiarize
yourself with the questions and possible answers before you use it with
your students. (Answers to some of the questions on the activity sheet
are provided at the very end.)
The class should be divided into teams of three to four students.
Each student should have a graphing calculator and a copy of the Light
It Up Activity Sheet. Each team will need a mirror, a laser pointer (or
flashlight), a block (or a thick book), tape, and two tape measures.
This lesson is designed to guide the students to discover a
connection between the problem situation, its graphical representation,
and the algebraic representation of rational functions. In particular,
students should be able to connect the graph of a rational function to
a rational function in standard form. The standard form of a rational
In this lesson, the role of the teacher is to assess student
understanding and listen, moving from team to team. Encourage students
to work cooperatively. Refrain from answering individual student
questions, especially those that can be easily answered by the team.
Distribute the Light It Up Activity Sheet to all students. Note that the activity sheet consists
of five parts; although the five parts are related and build on one
another, you may wish to distribute them one at a time, conducting a
brief discussion between parts.
A description of the problem situation appears on the first page
of the activity sheet. Read the problem out loud, and then ask a
student to describe the problem in her own words. Be sure that all
students understand the problem that they will be solving before moving
In their groups, students will work on each section of the
activity sheet. As mentioned above, the activity sheet consists of
five parts, as follows:
Climbing the Wall: Students investigate the inverse relationship
between time and speed on a climbing wall, and they represent a problem
situation with a basic rational function.
Trip to the Fair: With another rational function, students
describe the relationship between the number of people who go on the
trip and the cost per person.
A Closer Look at the Trip to the Fair: An extension of
the last situation, students consider what happens when a fee is added
to the cost per student. The result is a vertical shift in the graph.
An Even Closer Look at the Trip to the Fair: When several non-paying students are added, the rational function changes again, this time with a horizontal shift.
The Light It Up Game: Students return to the
problem discussed on the opening sheet. With a laboratory experiment,
students search for a rational function to describe the situation.
Cooling Down: Students consider a different situation
that can also be represented with a rational function. However, they
are not given as much guidance in analyzing this situation.
Allow students to work collectively on the activity sheet, pausing
them at certain points to discuss what they have discovered. These
intermittent discussions are a good opportunity to assess student
understanding and to make sure that all students are participating
within their groups.
When all students have completed Question 3, have a whole class
discussion about asymptotes. Talk about the definition of an asymptote
and its affect on the domain and range of a function. Describe other
functions, such as exponential functions and trigonometric functions,
which contain asymptotes. Then allow students to return to the activity
After completion of Question 7, students should be able to
write a rational function in standard form. They should also be able to
state the connection between a rational function (written in standard
form) and the equations of the vertical and horizontal asymptotes.
After Question 8, they should be able to determine the value of a.
As you circulate around the classroom, randomly ask different teams to
explain the relationship between the graph and the equation. You should
ask the following questions:
- Explain how you and your group arrived at your response to questions 1(b), 2(b), 4(c), and 6(c).
- What information do the vertical and horizontal asymptotes reveal about the equation?
- If a is negative, what affect does it have on the graph?
- How can you determine the value of a?
Continue to question each group until you feel that they are making
connections between the graphs and the equations. Visit each group at
When all teams have completed Questions 1 through 8, conduct a
whole-class discussion that covers the following two questions, as well
as any other questions that students may have:
- From the graph, how can you determine the values of a, b, and c in the equation?
- From the problem context, how can you determine the values of a, b, and c in the equation?
After completion of Question 8, students will investigate the Light It Up game. This is the main activity of the lesson.
The previous questions and discussion were meant to prepare students to
recognize rational functions. As necessary, help students set up the Light It Up
experiment described in Question 9. You may wish to demonstrate how
this investigation works by showing one example at the front of the
room before students begin their own experiments.
The benefit of the hands-on experiment is that each student
group will gather data by holding the laser pointer at a different
height. This will result in different rational functions. On the other
hand, you may wish to have all students explore the situation using the
same height and therefore gathering data about the same situation. This
will allow for a whole-class discussion to occur in which students have
a common set of data.
Regardless of how students investigate the problem from
Question 9, allow them to complete the activity and the remainder of
the activity sheet.
Selected Solutions to the Activity Sheet
4d. If students created the equation shown in 4(c), it can be converted to standard form by dividing the numerator by the denominator. The division would look like this:
Using the quotient from the division as the constant c, and using the remainder as the value of a, the equation could be written in standard form as follows: .
5c. The graphs have the same shape, but the graph from Question 4 has been translated up 5 units, as a result of the extra fee.
5d. The value of b represents a vertical asymptote, and the value of c represents a horizontal asymptote.
8e. The value of a cannot be determined from the graph directly. However, if the values of b and c are known, then by choosing a point on the graph and substituting its x- and y-values into the equation, the value of a can be found. (The value of a will be an approximation. Its accuracy will depend on the accuracy to which the coordinates of the point can be determined.)
9f. Assuming that the block is placed 25 cm from the wall at a height of 10 cm, and the height of the laser pointer is 150 cm, then the equation will be . (See the discussion above about how to obtain these values exactly from the problem situation.)
10a. The temperature of the water in the container is the average temperature of all cups of water. There are 8 cups of hot water and c cups of cold water, so there are (c + 8) cups total. The average of these is: .
Play the Carousel Game.
Question 10 can be used for independent assessment of student understanding.
Students appreciate working out a problem and seeing that their outcome
reflects a real situation. After completing Question 10, students may
like to see this problem in action.
After the students have algebraically determined the amount of cold
water (20°C) that must be added to the container to lower the
temperature of the water in the container from 50°C to 40°C, set up the
You will need:
- Large Container (able to hold 16 cups)
- Thermometer or Temperature Sensor
- Calculator-Based LaboratoryTM
- TI-84+ Overhead Graphing Calculator
- View Screen
- Overhead Projector
- 8 Cups Hot Water (50°C)
- 8 Cups Cold Water (20°C)
- Measuring Cup
Place the 8 cups of hot water into the container. Place the
thermometer or temperature sensor in the water. Record the temperature
of the 8 cups hot water; this indicates the temperature for 0 cups of
cold water. Gradually pour in ¼ cup of cold water, stir, and record the
temperature. Repeat with ¼ cups of cold water until the temperature
Questions for Students
1. What was the purpose of this lesson? What did you learn?
[The purpose of the lesson was to learn about rational functions. Rational functions are quotients of two other functions, and they have a standard form.]
2. What are the connections between the values of a, b, and c in the standard form of a rational function and the graph of the function?
[The sign of a indicates whether the graph appears in the first and third or second and fourth quadrants. The value of b indicates the vertical asymptote, and the value of c indicates the horizontal asymptote.]
- Was students’ level of participation high or low? Why?
- How did your lesson address auditory, tactile and visual learning styles?
- How did the students demonstrate understanding of the materials presented?
- Did you find it necessary to make adjustments while teaching
the lesson? If so, what adjustments, and were these adjustments
- Was your lesson developmentally appropriate? If not, what was inappropriate? What would you do to change it?