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ZERO Game to Introduce Factoring Quadratics

I used Shaun Carter’s ZERO! Game with great success to motivate factored form of quadratics. I presented this as a “game day” after we had talked about vertex form of quadratics and standard form of quadratics and BEFORE we started factoring quadratics the next day.

zero factoring quadratics game

It was PERFECT for an Early Release Friday with shortened, 40 minute periods.

zero game to introduce factoring quadratics.

I noticed a HUGE difference between how my Pre-AP Algebra 2 classes and my on-level Algebra 2 classes tackled the strategy aspect of the game.

If you’re not familiar with the game, students must pick a card. A random number generator is used to generate an integer between -5 and 6, inclusive.

If that number causes a student’s card to evaluate to ZERO, the student’s team earns a point. The strategy comes in from the fact that a team may earn a maximum of one point from any single turn.

So, if three students have a card that evaluates to zero, the team still only earns one point. So, if a team is clever, they will figure out how to maximize their probability of earning a point each round.

zero game to introduce factoring quadratics.

One thing this activity made me realize is that my students REALLY don’t have an understanding of how randomness works.

I used the random number generator that Shaun created especially for this game and shared on his blog, and students became very stressed out if a number was called twice or (GASP!) three times in a row.

zero game number picker on tv screen.

As we have been solving quadratics by factoring, it has been interesting to be able to reference the game that we played and make the connection between what they were doing in the game and what we are doing as we solve equations.

Once students understand the need for factoring, you can give them plenty of factoring practice with a factoring puzzle.


Tuesday 13th of November 2018

Thank you for sharing the game ideas for Algebra 2! It's helpful to find engaging games for high school math students. Please share more on how to play ZAP, thanks!


Monday 12th of November 2018

How do you play ZAP! Looks so fun!

Mr. Math

Saturday 10th of November 2018

Can you explain how ZAP works?


Friday 9th of November 2018

How do yo play ZAP? It looks interesting!


Friday 9th of November 2018

'Splain ZAP, please.

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