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Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Flyswatter Game for Identifying Conics

I heard about this game from Rebecca Bell and immediately thought to use it for identifying the equations of conics*. We spent about 10 minutes lecturing/notetaking and then played the game.

The Preparation:
1. Buy 4 flyswatters. (At the hardware store. They are cheap.)
2. Create equations to identify and swat. I used 2 of each of the main types of conic sections.
3. Print out 2 copies and separate them with a paper cutter.
4. Tape them randomly to the whiteboard. I used 2 identical boards, playing with 4 teams, for a large class.
5. Create several rounds of things to identify. In earlier rounds I made it easy, like "a parabola" and later made it more difficult like "a parabola that opens to the left".

Setting up the Class:
1. Divide into 4 teams.
2. 2 teams play on each identical whiteboard.
3. Each team stands in a line facing the board.
4. The first person in line holds a flyswatter and stands behind a line on the floor. (I made "lanes" with the desks - careful to place the front of the lines so that the 2 teams are the same distance from the center of the board.)

The Rules:
1. Stand behind the line until I call out what you are swatting.
2. The first person to swat the correct equation gets a point for their team. Sometimes there is more than one right answer on the board, so you can both get points.
3. If 2 people go for the same equation, the swatter on the bottom wins.
4. If any team members yell out help like "top right!", the round is over and no one gets any points.
5. If you win a point, you pick up a marker and give your team a point on the whiteboard.

I found the best place for me to stand was on top of a desk behind all the lines.

The kids were engaged, had fun, and didn't want to stop playing. Success! A few got so competitive (pushing, jumping to front of line out of turn) I had to put them in time out. That's right. 16 year olds in time out.

I wish I had some pictures but my camera had an inexplicably dead battery that day. Also, if anyone knows how to get a cell phone picture onto the Internets, please enlighten me.

*because I am a big nerd.