Modelling Quadratics

Find curves in monuments, buildings and water jets and fit a parabola to them using dynamic geometry software.' 

Quadratic graphs are everywhere you look.  They can describe the paths of rockets, balls and jets of water.  Because of their symmetry you will see parabolas in bridges, buildings, sand dunes...  Understanding their equations is hence hugely important in the fields of engineering and science.  This activity uses dynamic geometry software to help students understand the graph of  quadratics in the form y = a(x - b)² + c.


  • Find below 3 GeoGebra files with some beautiful images.



  • Can you find the equations of the parabolas in the photographs above?
  • Students will need access to a computer to complete this activity.
  • Three dynamic geometry files are included for students to play with.
  • Use the Geogebra applets and use the sliders to change the values of the parameters to get a best fit to the parabola curve.
  • What do the sliders do to the graphs? Why?
  • Students may wish to use their own images which can be found here
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