You are here: start » activities » main

# Plotting Conic Sections

**Keywords:**Central Forces, Orbits, Conic Sections, Mathematica, Maple, Computer Visualization

### Highlights of the activity

- This computer visualization activity is designed to help students visualize various plots of conic sections in polar coordinates.
- Students use a Maple Worksheet or a Mathematica Notebook to generate polar plots of orbits while exploring the parameter space of the orbits.
- The whole class wrap-up discussion addresses how the shape of the orbits depend on a variety of geometric parameters.

### Reasons to spend class time on the activity

- Students learn about how polar plots are generated
- Students become familiar with the equations for conic sections in polar form
- Students learn to explore parameter space and develop experience with how various terms in the equation affect the shape of the plot
- Students learn how to use Maple or Mathematica to generate a polar plot

This activity works particularly well when sequenced with other activities.

### Reflections

### Instructor's Guide

### Student Handouts

### Maple Worksheet

cfconics.mw (Maple 13)

cfconics.mws (Maple 11 Classic)