Innovative Classrooms – Turning Equations into Cartoons at Ridley College

Last term, the Pure & Applied Math Department at Ridley College introduced assignments that made connections between Math and other subject areas such as Art, Language and I.T.  The Grade 10 Math classes and Grade 11 Functions class created comic strips that incorporated solving math problems.  Here is one example:

The Grade 12 Advanced Functions class had the challenging task of recreating a cartoon character using algebraic functions.  A geometer’s sketchpad was used to find the functions and then they were transferred to a graphing calculator to create the picture. Once the students had an accurate model of their original image in Graphing Calculator (For some students this took 500 equations!), the next challenge was to colour their image in using inequalities (Again, only math equations allowed, no Photoshop or paint programs).  The students wrote a report chronicling their progress, and then had to reflect briefly on the project and their ‘creation’.

Here is what some of the students had to say about the assignment:

‘Although this project took countless hours and lots of work, seeing all my equations and inequalities working together to form a beautiful model was rewarding’ – Sultana VK

‘In the beginning I was skeptical. There was chatter in the halls of this insurmountable IT project that would take every ounce of effort students could conjure up. For the past two weeks, it has been the homework that’s been daunting me every night. I never thought I’d be able to enjoy it, but the truth is; it’s fun. Sitting down at night, and working on a couple of functions is kind of enjoyable. It’s awesome watching your image take shape from only functions. It was weird; you’d see a line on your image, and think there is no way anything could ever mathematically represent that, and sure enough, there was’ – Eric G.

Ridley College is the largest boarding school programme in Ontario, with graduates attending top universities in Canada, the United States, and around the world. With over 100 different high school courses, 14 different athletic teams, and over 70 clubs and activities, Ridley has much to offer its students from 31 different countries. To find out more about Ridley College visit: