Examining Exponents in Class VII

MARCH 6, 2024

Seventh grade mathematicians recently participated in a group activity on exponents. The intention was to give students a hands-on experience with different types of growth, namely, linear growth and exponential growth. In linear growth, the output increases by a constant difference (additive amount) for every unit of input, whereas in exponential growth, the output increases by a constant percent (or multiplicative amount) of every unit of input. Students learned that in an exponential situation, numbers can become very big, very fast, often to an extent that escapes human intuition, as we are so rarely exposed to exponential growth in our daily lives.

In follow-up activities, students graphed each growth pattern, calculated incremental and cumulative percent change for each growth pattern, and learned about instances of exponential growth and decay in the world—including the spread of disease, videos that either go viral or immediately decline in popularity and Moore’s Law and AI.