Algebra Tiles are a new way of teaching algebra to students who are just beginning to learn the basic concepts.
This instructable will show you how to use an Epilog laser cutter to make a set of the useful tiles. If you do not have a laser cutter, you can use Ponoko or similar laser cutting services to make yours.
Step 1: Supplies
The supply list for this project is:
Sheets of Acrylic (32 dollars for a 24x34 inch piece from Tap Plastics)
A Laser Cutter
The template that is attached
I included 2 templates, one for 1 set and one for a set of 39. They can be edited in corel draw or a similar program.
Step 2: Laser Cut the Acrylic
My laser cutting settings were as follows:
Engraving: 400 dpi Speed: 100 Power: 40
Cutting: 400 dpi Speed: 10 Power: 100 Frequency: 5000
I removed the paper off the acrylic as to help the engraving, with the paper on you'll have to change your settings.
Step 3: Finished Tiles
Once you laser cut them, use a toothpick to poke out the extra plastic. Then you are left with the pretty tiles.
Step 4: How to Use the Tiles
The tiles are used to show kids how perfect square trinomials work. There are three main tiles in this set:
x2 Tile which has side x
x Tile which as an x and a 1 side
and the 1 Tile that has a 1x1 sides
Each tile has a positive side (denoted by the lines) and a negative side (smooth side)
In our picture example we see the trinomial:
x2 + 2x + 1
When the tiles are fitted together we see it makes a perfect square, and looking at each side we can see that each side makes up x+1
Therefore the prime factor of the trinomial is (x+1)2
Step 5: Final Thoughts
For teachers looking for a more visual way to introduce algebra concepts to students algebra tiles are perfect. If you have access to a laser cutter or willing to use ponoko you can get a set of these tiles pretty easily.
I hope to present more concepts on how to use algebra tiles in the future, if you use these tiles in your classroom please comment and tell me how you use these neat tiles!