Seeing Functions at the City Museum

Posted October 31, 2012

by Lensyl Urbano

The slide on the third floor of the City Museum. A co-ordinate system is overlayed, and points showing the curve of the slide are selected.

Elegant curves.

I asked my students to take pictures of the curves they found while on our field trip to the scrap metal playground that is the City Museum. The plan is to see if we can determine what functions best fit the curves. To do so, we need to transfer the curves from the images to a co-ordinate system. Since I’m primarily interested in what type of functions might best fit the data, the scale of the co-ordinates does not matter that much.

Feet, inches, meters, centimeters, pixels, or any other units can be used. In fact, I use a purely arbitrary set of coordinates in the image above. All I require is that the grid be evenly spaced (although the vertical and horizontal spacing don’t have to be the same, it’s more straightforward if they are).

Now we take a set of points that lie on our shape and try to match them to some sort of curve using a spreadsheet, and, if we’re able, least squares regression.

There were lots of shapes to choose from.

There were lots of shapes to choose from, including the nice sinusoid in the background.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Seeing Functions at the City Museum, Retrieved January 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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