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Send in the Clowns
Descriptive Research Project on Conic Sections


When was the last time you were entertained by a clown?  Most of us have seen clowns at a circus, a party, or in a street show.  Many cultures enjoy the  art of clowning.  Clowns can depict many emotions depending on their dress and makeup.  As you work through the project, you will use graphs of quadratic relations to create designs for clown faces.  You will try to capture specific emotions in your designs then you will organize a display of your designs.


Procedures
1.  Design a clown face using only graphs (or parts of graphs) of parabolas.  When you have a design you like, record the equations  you use, including any restrictions on the domain or range of each.  Give the equations for your clown face to two classmates.  Ask them to sketch the face from the equations.  Compare their sketches with yours.  Check your equations to resolve any differences amoung the graphs.

2.  Design several clown faces using graphs (or parts of grapsh) of conic sections.  Each face should convey a different emotion, such as anger, sadness, joy, or surprise.  For each face, record the equations you use, including any restrictions.

3.  Find two classmates.  Collect measurements for the distance h from the top of the head to the chin and the distance w across the face at the eyes.  Analyze th data to design an elliptical outline for a clown face that will fit the "average" student.  Record the equation you use.  How well does your ellipse fit your own face?  do you think an ellipse is a good approximation for the shape of a human face?  Why or why not?

4.   Create a display for your designs.  Choose any meduim you like and be creative.  Set your display in the glass case in the foyer by the office.

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