MP3 Mathematics Investigation: Zero and Negative Exponents

Criterion B: Investigating Patterns

In this assignment you will use your knowledge of exponents to investigate what
happens if you have a zero or negative exponent. No calculators allowed.

Steps
1.

Before you do the investigation, make a prediction: What do you think 2 0
will equal? What about 2-1?

2.

Use your knowledge of exponents to fill out the “Power of Two Chart.” This
means you will fill out what 21 – 25 equals.

3.

Once you have filled in what the powers of two are, you will need to look
for a pattern. Start at the answer for 25 and look for what you need to do to
it to get the answer to 24. Then look at the answer for 24 and check that
you need to do the same thing to it to get the answer for 23. If you have to
do the exact same thing, you have found the pattern.
(Problem Solving Techniques: Working Backwards & Finding a
Pattern)

4.

Once you have found the pattern, write what is happening (the pattern you
found) in the blank provided next to the “Power of Two Chart.”

5.

Continue the pattern all the way down to 2 1 and then add another line to
the “Power of Two Chart” so that you can continue the pattern to 2 0. Fill in
what your pattern says 20 must equal.

6.

Continue the pattern to 2-1, then 2-2, then 2-3.

7.

Make a prediction. What do you think 30 will equal? 3-1? 3-2?

8.

Repeat steps 2 – 6 for powers of three in a “Power of Three Chart” that
you yourself make.

9.

What do you think the rule is for any number to the power of zero? What
about any number to the power of -1? What about -2?

Apply Your Rule!
Use your newly discovered rule to try these questions:
10a

170

10b

930

10c

x0

10d

(3x)0

10e

3x0

11a

4-1

11b

5-1

11c

x-1

11d

(3x)-1

11e

3x-1

11f

MP3 Investigation on Zero and Negative Exponents Worksheet

Powe
rs of
2
25
=
24
=
23
=
22
=
21
=

Answer
(Write what
it equals)

Patt
ern

Create your
Own Power
of 3 Chart

MP3 Mathematics Investigation: Zero and Negative Exponents
Criterion C: Communication (out of 6)

Now that you have your Criterion B back, please answer the following questions:

1.

Explain what you have done in the investigation. Your writing should be
clear and logical and it should be easy for someone who had not done the
investigation to understand what you did. You are showing your reasoning
(you can include mistakes you made as traps to watch out for)!
The point of this is to explain to someone how they can discover what 2 0
and 2-1 are by looking for a pattern, and then using that pattern to create a
rule. Make sure you explain the rule (x0 and x-1).

2.

To achieve a level 6, you will need to come up with the rules for x0 and x-1
using another method (this time using algebra). This is more difficult so
don’t be worried if you have trouble! This is only if you want a 6 out of 6.
a) Use what you know about different methods to simplify this
problem to come up with a rule for x0:
x5
5
x
b)

Use what you know about the different methods to simplify
this problem to come up with a rule for x-1:
x4
x5

c)

Using the method you used in b, can you come up with a
rule for x-2, x-3, x-n (meaning x to any negative power)?

If you submit your work via email (preferred), make sure to include a heading,
save the document with both your name and the investigation name, and
attach it to a professional-looking email.