Mathematical Mysteries of Rapa Nui with Classroom Activities: The Activities

Ximena Catepillán (Millersville University), Cynthia Huffman (Pittsburg State University) and Scott Thuong (Pittsburg State University)

Four classroom-ready activities based on the explorations in this article are provided below, as links to PDF files.

Activity 1: What is the Shape of a traditional Rapanui house on Easter Island? A Multicultural Mathematical Activity Involving Ellipses

This worksheet activity (pdf) is appropriate for secondary students in a class studying conic sections or students in a college algebra class. The first part of the activity gives an algebraic review of ellipses with exercises while the second part finds the equation of an ellipse corresponding to a Rapanui boat house foundation.

Activity 2: Outdoor Activity Modeling an Easter Island boat house foundation with an ellipse

This outdoor activity (pdf) would fit in with a secondary or college class studying ellipses and gives students a hands-on application of the definition of an ellipse.

Activity 3: Indoor Activity Constructing a Scale Model of an Easter Island boat house foundation with an ellipse

This indoor activity (pdf) is a modification of Activity 2 for use inside the classroom. Students are asked to find an appropriate scale and then construct a scale model of a Rapanui boat house based on the definition of an ellipse. Activities 3 and 2 could be combined by having students first construct a scale model (Activity 3) and then construct a full-scale model outside (Activity 2).

Activity 4: Curve Fitting Applied to Rapa Nui Stone Foundations

This curve fitting activity (pdf) can be used as a teacher demonstration or completed by students, either individually or in groups. GeoGebra is used to fit an ellipse to a drone image of a hare paenga foundation.