Calculate the Love – Valentine’s Day Heart Challenge

This Friday is Valentine’s Day. I know students and teachers around the country are doing Valentine-themed activities, whether that be making cards for parents, or exchanging cards, or doing plot-the-point pictures of hearts, etc. When I was teaching in the middle and high schools, I tried to have some math-related activities, where students were to use mathematics to create Valentine-themed pictures, cards, or art. In geometry, this might be using constructions with compass/protractor or math software. We even made poems a couple years using mathematical language, which were hilarious. Students can be so creative!! (Example: “My love for you is irrational”, and the image was a circle with a heart and the pi symbol inside).

In middle school we might create coordinate plots. In pre-algebra or algebra we might use different functions and the calculators to come up with different representations. It was always quite a bit of fun, so I thought I would pass along the idea.

One really fun challenge that I use to do is to encourage students to construct hearts using equations, inequalities and calculators. This really fosters some creativity, and complexity as well, depending on the level of students, since all sorts of equations can be used. If you have colored calculators you can add in that color-aspect as well. For example, you can use parametric equations, or conics, or inequalities, or plotting points. It is all dependent on the level of student. So – I am encouraging you all to challenge your students this week to come up with creative ways to construct, using equation and/or inequalities, or lists/points to create some different hearts. Maybe have a contest where students, on Friday, share their creations and everyone explores the graphs and then maybe votes on the different ones. You could have ‘most creative’ or ‘most equations’ or ‘best shading’ or best use of color.  This type of activity really forces students to explore equations and inequalities in different ways, having to constrain the domain and/or range, and think about the coefficients.

Here are just a couple examples (using the CG50 Graphing Calculator). Challenge your students and share the love!!