Lesson 3

Understanding Rational Inputs

Lesson Narrative

The goal of this lesson is to examine rational inputs of exponential functions and make sense of them in context, focusing on non-whole number inputs. Prior to this point, students have studied the meaning of expressions such as \(5^{\frac{1}{2}}\) and \(10^{\frac{7}{3}}\). They have also graphed exponential functions with real numbers for the domain and used these graphs to estimate the values of functions, focusing mainly on the outputs when inputs were integers. Here, students use equations and graphs to determine outputs at rational inputs and make sense of what these inputs mean in context. In the next lesson, students will calculate the growth and decay factors for different rational input intervals.

Students construct exponential functions to model the growth of a population and the decay of the amount of medicine in the body. In both cases, they solve problems by interpreting functions (represented both graphically and with expressions) in context, working across different representations of the situations (MP2).

Learning Goals

Teacher Facing

  • Understand the meaning of a rational input, particularly positive non-whole number inputs, to an exponential function in context.
  • Use equations and graphs to identify the value of an exponential function at a rational input.

Student Facing

  • Let’s look at exponential functions where the input values are not whole numbers.

Required Materials

Required Preparation

Acquire devices that can run Desmos (recommended) or other graphing technology. It is ideal if each student has their own device. (Desmos is available under Math Tools.)

Learning Targets

Student Facing

  • I can determine the value of exponential functions at non-whole number inputs.

CCSS Standards

Building On


Print Formatted Materials

Teachers with a valid work email address can click here to register or sign in for free access to Cool Down, Teacher Guide, and PowerPoint materials.

Student Task Statements pdf docx
Cumulative Practice Problem Set pdf docx
Cool Down Log In
Teacher Guide Log In
Teacher Presentation Materials pdf docx

Additional Resources

Google Slides Log In
PowerPoint Slides Log In