introduction to conic sections

The final assignment in 2020 for my Pre-Calculus students was to research and present an introduction to conic sections. Students learned that slicing a right cone at varying angles will produce a circle, ellipse, or hyperbola (or of course a point or line if it’s a special case). Click here, if you would also like to learn a bit about the fascinating world of conics. The purpose of this assignment was to gain an overall understanding of conics, its history, and applications, but also for the class to talk to each other, get away from the thumbnail version of me, and to practice their online presentation skills. It is not just Covid-19 that is making this a necessary skill, but our global world in general and these students are stepping up to the plate with enthusiasm and presentation skills that rival some adults. In our two days of presentations, we watched students share information, speak English more fluently than they had all school year, and make us laugh with comical drama scenes. I applaud them all!

The next steps for my Pre-Calculus students who created the conics presentation will be along different paths. As a rising ninth-grader, one will jump into AP Calculus BC for the next two years taking IB Maths Applications and Interpretations High Level as a junior, while the other student will start Applications and Interpretations next year. Both have impressed me with their work ethic, level of commitment, and quality of work that has continued even during this interesting time of online teaching and learning. They are our future leaders, our vaccine developers, architects, city planners, or anything they choose to be. With their commitment, hard work, and invaluable education they receive at Washington Preparatory School, all doors are open to them. I am excited to see where they go and the problems they solve!

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