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Dr. Perdue

Activity #3: Pick’s Formula Name: (or “Using Geoboards to Explore Polygon’s Area”) Part I: Introduction

Research shows that students learn mathematics concepts better when those concepts are presented in a concrete way before they are made more abstract. We are going to use “manipulatives” (mathematical modeling tools used to give concrete examples for various concepts) to explore area of polygons. The manipulative we will be using today are called “Geoboards”… they come in different sizes and styles but all are square boards with pegs that can be used with rubber bands to create various shapes. To prepare for this activity, you need to refresh yourself on some basic definitions. First, recall our class definition for “polygon” from the previous activity and record it here:

Next, based on that definition, define the following terms: (Note: remember to follow our “rules” for writing good geometric definitions.) 1. Triangle 2. Quadrilateral 3. Pentagon 4. Hexagon 5. Heptagon 6. Octagon 7. Diagonal 8. Side 9. Vertex

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Math 230

Dr. Perdue

Now, using our text, the Internet, or any other resource you’d like, write the formulas requested below. Remember to state what each variable stands for; for example, the Area(square) = s2 where s = the length of the side of the square. 1. A(rectangle) = 2. A(triangle) = 3. A(regular polygon) =

Part II: Action

In 1899 a mathematician named Georg Pick discovered a formula (direct rule) for calculating the area of a polygon on a Geoboard using only two variables, the number of interior points (pegs found inside the polygon) and the number of boundary points (pegs that are touching a rubber band, can also think of as vertices of the polygon). In this activity, we will re-discover his formula through exploration. Because our intent is to discover a formula that works for all polygons, we will first explore with polygons that we can easily “see” the answer. As an example, look at the two polygons shown on Geoboards below:

Polygon #1 Polygon #2

Can you “see” that the area of Polygon #1 is 8 squares? Polygon #2, however, is harder because not all the squares are whole. However, by the time we are done, you will be able to easily calculate the area of Polygon #2 using only the number of interior and exterior points. Since we are looking for patterns, we will take a systematic approach to the polygons we create. For example, we’ll try to make several polygons with the same area but that have different numbers of interior and boundary points so we can determine the effect they have on the result.

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Math 230

Dr. Perdue

You will need a Geoboard and a small handful of rubber bands. I will lead you in creating various polygons and ask you to determine the area of each. As we create each polygon, record the information in the table below. Note that we are using a heuristic of making a systematic list or table to try to solve our problem. Area of the Polygon Number of Number of (in squares) Interior Points Boundary Points 1 2 3 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 7 7

Part III: Integration

As you know from our previous activity, often we want to express the results of our activities using mathematical models, specifically direct formulas. By now you have noticed certain patterns in finding the area of polygons using the Geoboards. To determine the direct formula, read the Exploration on page 446 and do the activity described on page 447. Then, write the complete Pick’s Formula in the box below (Note: remember to define any variables you use.)

Don’t forget to check your formula and make sure it works!!

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This is an example of an in-class activity that I use with my classes. If you refer to the course calendar (also in this collection), you will see a mixture of in-class activities, lectures, and la...

This is an example of an in-class activity that I use with my classes. If you refer to the course calendar (also in this collection), you will see a mixture of in-class activities, lectures, and labs. It has been my experience that students (a) enjoy the class more, (b) remember the content longer and more completely, and (c) are more motivated and interested in the material when they are actively involved in discovering, discussing, and developing their own knowledge. These activities are written by me, but they are based on both the goals of the course and the textbook / resources we are using. I have found that a three-part activity works best. In part I, the student prepares for the class. This is done beforehand and the students come to class having their completed part I in hand. We will often take the first few minutes of class to grade part I before commencing with the actual activity to ensure that there is no mis-information that needs to be corrected first. Part II is the actual "doing" of the activity -- in this case, the students are exploring with various polygons in order to derive a particular formula that was originally discovered by Pick. This "discovery" is not random; it is well-designed by me, the teacher, and guided (though informally) so the students have some direction during their investigations. Part II is usually completed in a mix of small groups (say three or four students) and whole class (led by someone... often, not me, but another student). Part III is the summary / wrap up / connections section in which I try to ensure that the student (1) learned whatever the particular mathematical content was (2) can connect that content to both prior knowledge and future knowledge (since they know the whole layout of the class beforehand with the course calendar, they are expected to make these connections "both ways") and (3) can answer (correctly) specific questions related to this content (often related to what they will see on tests and quizzes).

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