Parabola Tangent Line Christmas Tree Craft (FREE DOWNLOAD)

You can use the tangent lines from a parabola to make a Christmas Tree. Really!You can get an idea of what a curve looks like just by graphing a bunch of its tangent lines. And if you pick the right tangent lines from the right curve, you can get really neat looking shapes.

Like a Christmas Tree!

I played around on geogebra a bit and found a pretty good one for it.

I used some choice line segments of the tangent lines for the parabola y=-0.25x^2. This made a great template to use for making a Christmas Tree out of wood, nails and string.

I added a cork as the trunk and it looked mighty good!

Collect the supplies.

You’ll need…

Print, hammer and weave!

Print the template and place on your piece of wood. Hammer 21 small nails in the labeled points.

You can use the tangent lines from a parabola to make a Christmas Tree. Really!

Tie one end of the thread to an outside bottom nail. Wind the thread around the nails, along the diagonals.

It’s kind of tricky to keep it tight and go all around them. Try putting your finger on top of the nail you just went around to keep the string on and still be able to pull it tight.

Trace each line on the template at least once. I did it two or three times to make it stand out more.

Try to end up back where you started. Make a knot and tie the end to the beginning to make it extra secure.

Finish it up.

Tear the template out from under the string next. If you take a very thin knife and run it under the paper, it’ll pull away from the nails. That makes it easier to pull it out from the sides.

You can use the tangent lines from a parabola to make a Christmas Tree. Really!

Once the paper is off, it’s time for decorating.

Glue on a wine bottle cork as the truck of the tree. I nailed my nails in pretty far, so I cut the cork in half long-ways before gluing it on.

You can cut out the explanation in the box on the template to glue or tape to the back. This is especially nice if you’re giving it as a gift to a math person.

Add your own flair!

Do it on different colored wood with different colored yarn. Use embellishments for decorations or a star at the top.

You can even thread and tie beads onto it as you wind it around. (This seems like a great idea, but in reality it might be a pain.)

Do it at home or with your class.

This is a great gift idea for a fellow math teacher. And it’s also a cool idea for older students to do.

Will you do it? What do you think? Please share in the comments below and on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

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