Families of Curves #3

I have now printed out my Families of Curves projects at school, and hung them up. I still have to look through the actual booklets that students turned in and give feedback, but the actual way that these look — once hung — is pretty awesome.

I used just some tags I had lying around (I love buying random useless stuff from Staples and hoarding it at my desk at school) and dissection pins. I photocopied their artwork on cardstock.

Being honest, I hung them because I wanted the kids to think “Hey, Mr. Shah liked these enough to take the time to do this.” Implicitly. I wanted the kids to know I was proud of their creations (and to let them know that they should be proud of them too.) No kid in my class has said “Hey, that’s awesome.” So I don’t know if I accomplished that goal. But I have heard a zillion other people say how much they have liked seeing them there. A number of other teachers have randomly come up to me unsolicited to tell me how cool they think they are. And the head of the Upper School gave them a shout out in the Upper School meeting. And just recently, yesterday at the subway, I ran into a student who graduated a couple years ago. And she was at our school because her brother goes here, and she said she was looking at them thinking “how cool! Mr. Shah!”

Another great moment with these was having two of my kids go to a neighboring school which holds a math art seminar, and watch these kids talk with other students about their work. It was clear how invested these two kids were. Watching them articulate their process just made my heart melt.

[Here is Families of Curves #1, and Families of Curves #2]



  1. I love this project and want to “borrow” it for my kids to try. We have done all the basic functions and have just started sequences. I think this is a nice extension of sequences and sequence notation that also reinforces basic and trig graphs- plus it is cool. Is there anything major you would change? Did the “booklets” get to the connections you were hoping for. I love projects that let my kids see math or do math and this looks great for that.

    1. Hi- I still haven’t (believe it or not) gone through the booklets fully. I would definitely not use this to *teach* anything, since what happens is that kids go crazy and start doing with two or three functions and the simple gets complicated really fast. I would use this at the end of a unit as a small thing for fun. We had an extra three days so I threw this in, and it worked well to at least get kids to understand what a family of curves is, and see why they might look like they do… But anything deeper — like a full understanding of things — would either require a more curtailed/directed set of instructions (instead of “go crazy! make something pretty”) or more time.

  2. Would love to see what you actually assigned for them to do. Did you give them a handout with the assignment on it? I’m thinking of doing something similar with my class, but would love to have a foundation to build on instead of just a rough idea.


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