Students explore the definition of a function by playing an interactive game called "Club Function." The goal of the game is to be in the club! With students each assigned to be either a zebra or a rhinoceros, they group themselves according to the "rules" of the club function. After two minutes, students freeze in their groups, and if they are not correctly following the rules of the club function, then they are not allowed into the "club." Through this activity students come to understand that one x-coordinate can only have one corresponding y-coordinate while y-coordinates can have many x-coordinates that correspond to it.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
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- Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Math
- 1. Understand that a function is a rule that assigns to each input exactly one output. The graph of a function is the set of ordered pairs consisting of an input and the corresponding output. (Grade 8)  ...show
- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- F. Knowledge gained from other fields of study has a direct effect on the development of technological products and systems. (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Math
- Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships (Grades -1 - 12)  ...show
- State the definition of a function.
- Identify non-functions and explain their flaws by talking about x and y coordinates.
- Create their own mapping diagram from a set of names from the activity or coordinates from the coordinate plane.
- The teacher hands each student a card with a picture of a zebra or rhinoceros on it.
- Students have two minutes to organize into groups based on the rules of the club function.
- When time is up, the teacher draws a mapping of each group on the board to check to see if the club function rules are followed.
- If a group does not follow the rules, then all the students get another two minutes to form new groups based on the club function rules. (If the students all follow the rules the first time, a second trial is not needed). Be sure to not erase any of the groupings before the next round to give students a chance to understand what is wrong with the groups not allowed into the club function.
- When time is up, the teacher again draws a mapping of each group on the board to check to see if the club function rules are followed. If all of the rules are followed, the students can take a seat while the teacher explains the mapping and explanation of functions. (See the Introduction/Motivation section for detailed mapping explanation).
- Challenge the students by switching the rules. What would happen to their maps and groups if zebras represented the y-coordinates and rhinos represented the x-coordinates?
- How would you define a function?
- List a group of coordinates or a mapping of people that could create a function.
- List a group of coordinates or a mapping of people that would not be considered a function.
- Why do you think engineers need to understand functions?
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2007 Vanderbilt University
VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Last modified: February 4, 2016