April 2012 edit: interested in how I present this activity, and many others, to teachers? Check out my talk at the AMTNJ Tech Conference: 2014 Desmos Talk

Here on the blog, the conic sections project we use at my HS in Algebra 2 is one of the most popular posts, generating lots of hits and e-mails to me asking for more information. I am just now grading conic sections projects for this year, and want to share some new additions to the project, and a rubric you can use. The projects are all over my living room now, just waiting to be graded.

For the newbies to this project – the concept is simple: use equations you have used, specifically conic sections, to draw something. The Desmos calculator is perfect for this task, and students turn in their graph-based picture, then a completed, colored picture.

So, what’s new this year?

**FOLDERS AND LINKS**

In the past, students printed their equations and submitted them. This year, students instead shared a link to their Desmos product using Edmodo. Also, using folders has improved student organization, making it easier to locate and edit crucial equations.

**VERIFYING SYSTEMS**

In my conics unit, students learn to solve both linear-conic and conic-conic systems. This year, I asked students to choose two systems from their drawing and verify the intersection points. This served as a personal review of the chapter, and students had an investment in linking the algebra they had learned to their picture.

**SCREENCASTS**

Last year, I participated in a Desmos webinar where I explained the evolution of the conics project. For the webinar, one of our sophomore students recorded a screencast where she explained an aspect of her picture. Having a student comment and reflect on their work was so powerful that I made it a requirement for all students this year. Many students chose ScreenCastOMatic to record, and the reflections were excellent. Edmodo was used to share links, though some students had tech issues which I will work to head off earlier the next time I give this project. Below is a screencast from Nick, who was kind enough to allow me to share his work with you:

I have received many e-mails from folks asking for guidelines and a rubric for this project, and am happy to share with you a more detailed document. Feel free to use any part of it, and let me know how it works in your classroom!

Download the project description and rubric

**MORE RESOURCES:**

My first blog post on the conics project

The Desmos YouTube Channel – Classroom Conics Project: