Possibilities of the Parabola

Robyn Gibson and Melissa Silk
Proceedings of Bridges 2016: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Education, Culture (2016)
Pages 579–582 Short Papers


Our story involves a bunch of junior high school students learning Cartesian plotting and graphing in order to understand the mathematics of a parabolic curve. Further exploration of the curve led to the development of a design project called “Possibilities of the Parabola” within which the parabolic curve served as a foundation shape for the creation of three-dimensional aesthetic objects. The objects themselves were related to the concept of vessel. That is, a container, a receptacle, a holder of something. The students were not to lose sight of the parabola but rather, embed the curve into their designs. As the project progressed, they experienced the joy in making that was interconnected to their studies in mathematics.