Changing Ferris Wheels

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SWBAT describe how changing the parameters of a Ferris wheel affect the graph associated with that Ferris wheel.

Big Idea

How do changes to the Ferris wheel affect the graph? Without having studied transformations of trigonometric functions, students can develop their own generalizations about this using Ferris wheels.


30 minutes

Investigation and New Learning

30 minutes

During today's investigation I offer my students two different sets of tasks.

Each set gives students a lot of chances for deeper thinking. In today's lesson I really want students to apply the knowledge they have been developing over the course of the week so far.

Comparing Ferris Wheels is more abstract and it gives students the chance to use MP2. Students may have to create graphs to understand how to answer the questions, but they are not given numbers so they will need to choose numbers to help them illustrate the second situation.

Ferris wheel graphs key information is more challenging and may be used as an extension or a challenge for students who can easily tackle the first task. The idea is for students to develop a formula to determine the maximum and minimum points on the Ferris wheel by using the given information. This is a good chance for students to use MP7 and MP8 to develop a generalization.

The overall purpose of these tasks is for students to think about the Ferris wheel graphs in different ways and to begin to develop a more generalized understand of how the functions work. The better that they understand the functions without the abstraction of the equations, the more concrete of an understanding they will have. 


10 minutes

The close of this lesson is a moment during the unit when it is good to ask students to share their knowledge because they may have figured out different things than other people in the class. Today, I will ask students to quickly find a person that they didn't talk to during class. This way, they can choose somebody they are comfortable talking to. I ask them to share their learning for the day with that person and then to ask each other questions about what they figured out.

Afterward, I ask them to write a quick note about what they learned from talking with their partner. If time allows, I ask a few people to share their notes before I collect them. Approaching the close in this way helps to sustain a  classroom culture where we share our learning with each other and are comfortable learning from lots of different people.