Hang a Disco Ball from the Eiffel Tower? Calculus to the Rescue!

Calculus students displayed their work on a challenging optimization problem. They were asked to plan a design to hang “something” from “somewhere,” and then determine the least amount of rope or wire needed.

Some of the things they chose to hang included a Williston medallion from the Golden Gate Bridge, a disco ball from Eiffel Tower, a circus hoop from the circus tent, a tire swing from a tree, and a target in a hockey goal. They needed to plan how far apart the hangers would be and how far down their item would hang. They then used Calculus to find the minimum amount of rope or wire needed for the project. Their presentations needed to include all of their calculations and drawing to support their work and solutions. They also needed to build a model to represent their solution.