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Folding Conics
Gather wax paper, a toolkit and a writing utensil. Figure 1: • Draw a line with a straightedge. • Draw a point not on the line. Label it F. • Fold the paper so the point is on the line and make a crease. Unfold. • Fold the paper so the point is on a different part of the line and make a crease. • Repeat until a picture emerges. • Trace over the result so you don’t lose it when your paper is flattened. 1. What does the picture look like?

2. Label three points on your figure, then measure the distance to point F and the distance to the line. (The distance from a point to a line is the distance to the nearest point on the line.) Record your results. What do you notice?

3. How does this paper folding construction work? (Why did following these instructions result in the rule you just found?)

4. If you moved Point F closer to the line and folded another curve, describe how you think the curve’s shape would change. What if you moved Point F further from the line?

Name:_____________

Folding Conics

Figure 2: • Draw a circle about 4 inches in diameter. • Draw a point, other than the center, in the interior of the circle. Label it F. • Fold the paper so the point is on the circle and make a crease. Unfold. • Fold the paper so the point is on a different part of the circle and make a crease. • Repeat until a picture emerges. • Trace over the result so you don’t lose it when your paper is flattened. 5. What does the picture look like?

6. Label three points on your figure, then measure the distance to the center of the circle and the distance to point F. Record your results. What do you notice?

7. If you moved Point F closer to the edge of the circle and folded another curve, describe how you think the curve’s shape would change. What if you moved Point F closer to the center of the circle? Onto the center?

8. How does this paper folding construction work? (Why did following these instructions result in the rule you just found?)

Name:_____________

Folding Conics

Figure 3: • Draw a circle about 4 inches in diameter. • Draw a point in the exterior of the circle. Label it F. • Fold the paper so the point is on the circle and make a crease. Unfold. • Fold the paper so the point is on a different part of the circle and make a crease. • Repeat until a picture emerges. • Trace over the result so you don’t lose it when your paper is flattened. 9. What does the picture look like?

10. Label three points on your figure, then measure the distance to the center of the circle and the distance to point F. Record your results. What do you notice?

11. If you moved Point F closer to the circle and folded another curve, describe how you think the curve’s shape would change. What if you moved Point F further from the circle?

8. How does this paper folding construction work? (Why did following these instructions result in the rule you just found?)

Name:_____________

Folding Conics

Why is this paper title Folding Conics? Take a guess, write it down. Discuss with your neighbor, write something down. Discuss with Ms. Cardone, decide if you need to write anything else down.

Name:_____________

Folding Conics

Figure 1: A parabola is a set of all points equidistant from a fixed line, called the directrix, and a fixed point not on the line, called a focus. When we fold the sheet so that one point lies directly over another, the crease is along the line equidistant from the two points (the perpendicular bisector of the segment joining the two points). The crease is a tangent line to the parabola. A light bulb placed at the focal point of a parabolic mirror will have its light reflected in parallel lines, a property used in flashlights and automobile headlights. Light or other electromagnetic waves traveling in lines parallel to the axis will reflect off a parabolic dish towards a collector at the focus, which is how satellite dishes and reflecting telescopes work. Figure 2: An ellipse is the set of all points P in the plane such that the sum of the distances from P to two fixed points is a given constant. The constant is the length of the major axis of the ellipse. In the activity, one focus is the point F and the other focus is the center of the circle. A crease is a line that is equidistant to the focus F and a point G on the circle. The crease is a tangent line to the ellipse. Elliptical domes, such as the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City or the Capitol in Washington DC, create “whispering galleries” where even a pin dropped at one focus can be heard more than a hundred feet away at the other focus. The sound waves from the whisper all travel the same distance to bounce off the ceiling to meet simultaneously at other focus. A nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones also uses the reflection property of the ellipse. In Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy, the patient is placed so that the kidney stone positioned at one focus of an ellipse. A high energy sound wave is created at the other focus, and it reflects off all parts of an elliptical tank wall to break up the kidney stone. Figure 3: A hyperbola is the set of all points P in the plane such that the difference between the distances from P to two fixed points is a given constant. In the activity, the foci are again the point F and the center of the circle, C. As with the ellipse, a crease is a line that is equidistant to the focus F and a point G on the circle.

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Folding Conics
The crease is a tangent line to the hyperbola. In the Cassegrain telescope design, the primary parabolic mirror reflects light towards a focal point. A secondary, hyperbolic mirror is positioned so that one of its foci coincides with the focus of the parabola and the other is the collector behind a hole in the primary mirror. The advantage of the Cassegrain design over the traditional reflection telescope is that the Cassegrain telescope can be much more compact.

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