Using potatoes to teach Algebra

Potatoes for Algebra 1.JPGWhat if we told you that we use potatoes to demonstrate algebraic expansion? Would you be concerned? Don’t be! Our students feel that these practical examples help solidify the theories they are learning in class. Our ingenious teachers use their own unique styles to ensure that class is structured for maximum absorption by students. For this, they use unusual methods such as the Potato method taught in Mr. Van Rijn’s Math 8 extended class.

Students have been working on the topic of algebraic expansion. As part of an investigation into binomial expansion leading to the development and use of Pascal’s triangle to generate coefficients, students were asked to cut a cube out of a potato and then follow specific cutting instructions to generate pieces of various sizes.  These concrete objects then set the stage for the initial binomial expansion, based on which students were asked to think more and more abstractly and justify their conclusions algebraically.Safety first! Students used knives and no one was hurt in the process!